Port Meadow, Oxford

Port Meadow, Oxford

Port Meadow is a large area of common land to the north and west of Oxford, England.

The meadow is an ancient area of grazing land, still used for horses and cattle, and has never been ploughed. In return for helping to defend the kingdom against the marauding Danes, the Freemen of Oxford were given the 120ha of pasture next to the Thames by King Alfred who founded the City in the 10th Century. The Freemen's collective right to graze their animals free of charge was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 and has been exercised ever since. [http://www.oxford.gov.uk/files/seealsodocs/27183/Port%20Meadow.pdf]

It runs from Jericho to Wolvercote along the east (left) bank of the River Thames, with the railway and the suburb of North Oxford further to the east, and the village of Binsey to the west. Access to Port Meadow is via Walton Well Road or Aristotle Lane in the south or from Wolvercote in the north. It is a typical English floodmeadow and is a favourite area for walking, with easy access from the city of Oxford. It is also a UK government SSSI. At the southern end of the meadow is Fiddler's Island in a loop of the river Thames. In the winter the meadow floods and if frozen forms a huge and safe area for skating. In late spring vast areas are carpeted with buttercups. Horses, cattle and geese graze the meadow and many birds can often be seen.

Because the meadow has never been ploughed, it contains well preserved archaeological remains, some of which survive as residual earthworks. Of particular note are several Bronze Age round barrows, an area of Iron Age settlement, and the foundations of 17th-century fortifications from the Parliamentary siege of Oxford during the English Civil War.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the meadow was used for horse racing, and low stone bridges laid over washes and ditches for this purpose still survive. [ [http://archive.theoxfordtimes.net/1998/7/8/85150.html Historic Port Meadow to get revamp] – The Oxford Times, 8 July 1998]

Part of Port Meadow was used as an military airfield in the First World War; the Royal Artillery also had a base there. In 1940, a camp was set up on the meadow for evacuees from Dunkirk.

In the south western corner of the meadow at Medley is Bossom's boat-yard, a small marina and a foot bridge across the Thames. The Medley Sailing Club, the furthest upstream sailing club on the River Thames, is located on the western riverbank.

References

External links

* [http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/United_Kingdom/England/Oxfordshire/Oxford-307338/Off_the_Beaten_Path-Oxford-Port_Meadow-BR-1.html VirtualTourist.com information]
* [http://www.tonywallisphotos.co.uk/Rivers/pages/03bt6%2001.htm Photograph]

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