Oxford Cotswold Archaeology JV wins a place on England’s first archaeology framework for national road projects

Oxford Cotswold Archaeology

Oxford Archaeology and Cotswold Archaeology, working together as Oxford Cotswold Archaeology JV (OCA JV), are delighted to have won a place on a framework to undertake archaeological investigations associated with new major road projects in England over the next four years.

Highways England has announced the organisations that have won places on its new £195m framework which offers the successful suppliers the opportunity to work with them to protect and enhance England’s unique cultural heritage and buried archaeology.

The framework has been divided into three Lots depending upon the value of the projects, and OCA has been awarded a place on Lots 2 and 3 which cover projects with values greater than £2m.

Catherine McGrath of Highways England said: ‘We’re delighted to announce the new framework; it’s the first of its kind in the archaeological sector for Highways England and enables us to develop direct relationships with archaeology contractors, developing greater efficiencies. We look forward to working with the successful suppliers.’

OCA has put together a strong team to deliver the framework, including UK civil engineering market leader Balfour Beatty who are supporting us with industry-leading expertise in health and safety and project management and programming. Other partners include Drapers Civil Engineering who will supply plant and welfare facilities, and specialist geophysicists from Magnitude Surveys.

Oxford Archaeology and Cotswold Archaeology have a proven track record of collaborating successfully on major projects. We are currently working on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing road scheme in Essex and Kent and on the High Speed 2 railway. CEOs Gill Hey and Neil Holbrook said ‘OCA has proven itself to be a highly successful vehicle to deliver major projects, and we look forward to working together and with our partners over the next four years to support Highways England’s road investment strategy’.

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Cotswold Archaeology and COVID-19

Cotswold Archaeology fully understands and accepts its responsibilities for the safety and well-being of our staff, clients and others during the national health emergency brought about by the onset of the COVID-19 virus. We have worked hard since March 2020 to ensure that our operations accord with the latest Government guidance and have developed a suite of COVID-19 Health & Safety policies and procedures. Most recently we revised our risk assessments to align fully with the updated guidance set out in Working Safely During Coronavirus. You can view our COVID-19 office and site risk assessments. These precautions allow us to adhere to Government’s policy which regards activities related to construction as essential to keep the country operating. Our field teams are currently working at full capacity.

All our offices remain open for business but are closed to visitors. The majority of our office staff are working remotely from home. They have full connectivity and will respond to customer communications and new project enquiries. If you have an enquiry on a potential new project please contact us in the usual way, using email or mobile telephone numbers. On current projects we continue to adapt to changing customer requirements and methods of working.

Inevitably all our public engagements are postponed for now, but we do hope to reschedule these when it is safe and practicable to do so.

Cotswold Archaeology will react accordingly when the Government feels able to unwind its lockdown restrictions and we will update this notice as the situation evolves.

Neil Holbrook
Chief Executive

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Stonehenge – we are going to be involved!

Following the Government’s decision to approve the improvement of the A303 trunk road at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, Cotswold Archaeology is proud to announce that it is a member of the largest collaborative partnership of archaeological organisations ever put together in the UK. The consortium is led by Wessex Archaeology and it will work on behalf of Highways England to deliver archaeological fieldwork, post-excavation analysis and a programme of public archaeology and community engagement.  Read more here.

Stone henge

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CA’s new recruitment portal

CA has launched a new online recruitment portal to advertise and manage our recruitment process. You can register your details on the website and receive notifications when vacancies of interest become available. When registering on the website, you will create a profile (like a CV) and then when a vacancy becomes available you can quickly apply.

Once you apply for a vacancy, the process will be managed through the portal. You will be able to access any messages that have been sent, and track the progress of your application. Our hope is that by having this new portal, our recruitment process will be smoother and our candidate experience will improve.

If you have any questions about the portal, you can email careers@cotswoldarchaeology.co.uk

CA online recruitment portal screenshot
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Cotswold Archaeology achieves Bronze at Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Awards

mind's Bronze badgeCotswold Archaeology was one of 103 organisations to take part in Mind’s annual Workplace Wellbeing Index, and was recognised with a Bronze Award, meaning we are committed to achieving change within their workplace.

Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best policy and practice, celebrating the good work employers are doing to promote and support positive mental health, and providing key recommendations on the specific areas where there is room to improve.

Every employer depends on having healthy and productive employees – valued and supported staff are far more likely to perform better and achieve peak performance. Mental health problems are common among employees. Mind surveyed more than 54,000 employees across the 103 employers participating in the Awards and found that 7 in 10 had experienced a mental health problem in their lives, with over half (53 per cent) affected by poor mental health in their current workplace.

This is the third time that Cotswold Archaeology has taken part in the survey, and our performance continues to improve. Through taking part in the survey we have identified actions to support our efforts on Mental Health in the workplace including:

  • Establishing a Mental Health policy
  • Putting in place a network of Mental Health First Aiders
  • Signing the ‘Time to Change’ Pledge
  • Delivering ‘Mental Health Awareness’ training for line managers
  • Ensuring that all our relevant policies recognise and provide guidance on the impact on mental health

Cotswold Archaeology will continue to review the feedback received from the survey and put in place actions to support the mental health of our employees.

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Keynes, trains and automobiles

We were clearly trying too hard to come up with a witty headline but the facts are clear, when it comes to the big infrastructure projects we stand side-by-side with our clients, managing their complex archaeological requirements. Whether it is in the planning or construction stages of projects, we have the skills and experience to handle the scheme specific logistical tests that invariably accompany the more traditional archaeological challenges. The last few years has seen the Milton Keynes team busy working on significant energy, airport, road and rail infrastructure projects across central and eastern England.

Drone Image of archaeological works
Excavations in advance of construction of the A120 Little Hadham Bypass and Flood Alleviation Scheme, Hertfordshire

During the late summer of 2019, while working on a highway scheme in Hertfordshire, our team topped 50 archaeologists on site. While, by most measures, this has to be acknowledged as a large archaeological project, in this instance the significance was not the scale but the unique circumstance that we had colleagues from all of our five offices working alongside each other. One company; one high standard; one large talent pool to draw from.

large-scale trial trenching project satellite image
Trial trenching during the most recent phase of work at Rugby. Credit: Google Earth

But energy and transport projects don’t have the monopoly on scale; we have been working on some seriously large-scale strategic housing schemes too. Several different five-hundred plus trial trenching projects in Northants, Leicestershire, Rugby and Essex have kept our teams occupied. At Rugby, we are nearing our 10th anniversary working together with the client team; with more site work planned for later this Spring.

These longer running, sustainable urban extension projects present a different set of challenges such continuity of personnel, retaining invested-knowledge and keeping the momentum going on post-excavation work and publications; all matters that we are well-versed with. In the next few weeks we are looking forward to returning to Bidwell West, Central Beds; another large-scale strategic housing scheme that we have been working on for several years.

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