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Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites:

List of Sites

Landscape image, ‘The Wroxton Fingerpost’
‘The Wroxton Fingerpost’

‘Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites’ is a guide to the standing stones, earthworks, historic features, and sacred sites, that are part of the landscape of North Oxfordshire and the surrounding hills. Each site has a dedicated page with descriptions, pictures, maps, and links to other sources of information. The following pages list these sites, grouped according to six general types:

Landscape image for ‘Roads and Trackways’
‘Ditchedge Lane and the Jurassic Way’, 19th July 2016

‘Ancient Roads and Trackways’

This page lists the ‘Roads and Trackways’ in the ‘Banburyshire Ancient Sites’ guide. Rather than a specific location, what these pages try to show is a whole corridor across the local landscape.

The emphasis in this guide is that sites should, wherever possible, be walked to. What adds to that sense of their place in the landscape is following the routes that ancient peoples would have taken, as it better conveys their ‘place’ in the landscape today.

Landscape image for ‘Camps and Settlements’
‘Sun breaks the cloud on Madmarston Hill’ (along ‘Salt Way’), 2nd January 2012

Irrespective of specific ancient sites, walking local ancient/old trackways, and seeing how they fit into the landscape, gives a greater appreciation of the countryside in this area.

The list is split into four sections, covering four different eras:

Ancient Tracks & Lanes
Landscape image, ‘Ditchedge Lane and the Jurassic Way’
The Jurassic Way

The Jurassic Way is a putative ancient north-east to south-west route following the escarpment of the Jurassic hills, from Lincolnshire down into Wiltshire. Locally it is a route which defines county boundaries and links many local historic sites. Arguably not a single road, its route is defined by local hills and valleys as a ‘corridor’ of routes all heading in a similar direction.

Roman Roads & Tracks
Landscape image, ‘Akeman Street and the River Evenlode’
Akeman Street

A major Roman military road from St. Albans to Cirencester, Akeman Street crosses along the southern edge of North Oxfordshire from the edge of Bicester to Asthall – with much of that route made-up of off-road or minor road sections across rolling countryside. It avoids most pre-Roman sites, and between Tackley and Stonesfield the raised route of the road can be seen at points as it crosses open fields.

Landscape image, ‘A frosty Salt Way and Madmarston Hill’
Salt Way

The brine of Droitwich (called Salinae, or 'Salt Works' by the Romans) may have been used from the Iron Age, but it was the Romans who industrialised the process – which continued operating until the 19th Century. Salt Way started as a minor Roman route to take that salt to the Roman towns of the South Midlands, and on down to the Chilterns; and its use as a regional road carried on into Medieval times.

Medieval Tracks & Lanes
Landscape image, ‘Banbury Lane climbs Thenford Hill’
Banbury Lane

A Medieval and possibly pre-historic route, Banbury Lane traces a straight-ish north-east/south-west route following the form of the landscape through Northamptonshire, starting at the Rive Nene in Northampton, crossing Watling Street at Pattishall, past Blakesley and Sulgrave, then through Culworth and Thorpe Mandeville, then roughly straight on to the crossing of the Cherwell in Banbury.

Landscape image, ‘The Cotswold Ridgeway leaves the Jurassic Way at Great Rollright’
The Cotswold Ridgeway

A Medieval and probably pre-historic route, continuing the line of Banbury Lane from the River Cherwell to Broughton, across Tadmarton and Whichford Heaths, running through The Rollright Stones, straight-on towards Stow, and then crossing The Cotswolds to end at the ancient settlement at Crickley Hill near Cheltenham.

Landscape image, ‘The Portway between Upper Heyford and Souldern’
The Portway

Possibly Roman or Early Medieval in origin, The Portway runs from the crossing of the Thames at Wallingford, past Oxford, north on the east bank of the Cherwell into Northamptonshire. Though some sections are indistinct, many parts still retain their wide way-leave between hedgerows, with holloways on some of the steeper hill climbs.

Landscape image, ‘Welsh Lane crosses Danes Moor’
Welsh Lane

Welsh Lane, or Welsh Road, was a set of Medieval or earlier tracks that intersected with The Portway and Salt Way, connecting north-west towards Coventry and Kenilworth and south-east to Buckingham and Aylesbury. It was a ‘drove road’ that paralleled Watling Street, used to drive animals cross-country, connecting the Medieval towns of the South East to North Wales.

Ogilby’s Road Atlas (1675)
Landscape image, “You can go anywhere from Shutford Five-Ways”, 31st August 2013
Ogilby’s Banbury-Campden Road

Though part of Ogilby’s first road atlas of England, today its an almost invisible-at-points route that rambles through the hills to the west of Banbury – not becoming an established main road again until it descends in to Warwickshire. From Banbury until Sibford Heath, it’s a route to escape the fast-moving world – not becoming an established main road again until it descends in to Warwickshire.

Landscape image: ‘A Storm Gathers Over the Old Salt Road to Buckingham (thumbnail)’, 25th September 2021
Ogilby’s Buckingham-Bridgenorth Road

Major roads seem so permanent, so immovable – and yet this route shows how history has a tendency to shift roads over time, rather like rivers in a valley meander on their course. This route was Ogilby’s main route from London to Banbury, Stratford and Bridgenorth, yet today this ancient route has been bypassed almost completely by the modern world.

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