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Local History


The county of Oxfordshire was formed in the early years of the 10th century and is broadly situated in the land between the River Thames to the south, the Cotswolds to the west, the Chilterns to the east and the Midlands to the north, with spurs running south to Henley-on-Thames and north to Banbury.

Historically the area has always had some importance, containing valuable agricultural land in the centre of the country and the prestigious university in the county town of Oxford (whose name came from Anglo-Saxon Oxenaford = "ford foroxen"). Ignored by the Romans, it was not until the formation of a settlement at Oxford in the 8th century that the area grew in importance. 

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Burford, Oxfordshire

The Rally is near to a town called Burford. Where is Burford?

Burford is situated west of Oxford, if travelling on the A40 it's between Cheltenham and Oxford.

Burford information

Burford map

A brief history of the area

Neolithic age

Long barrows and later Bronze age round barrows show the area was settled from at least 3000 BC. 500BC to 40AD: This period saw an increase in social organisation and, towards the end of the period, earthworks  were constructed in the area of which several still survive. 


There was a strong Roman presence in the region, which was well placed on the road network with Akeman Street (Verulamium/St Albans to Corinium/Cirencester) half a mile to the south. C4th Roman villas have been found in the area and  these would have been highly elaborate, with mosaic floors, bath suites and central heating. Other villas / farmsteads and settlements have been discovered in the area and these date from earlier centuries.


After the decline of Roman control much of the open land reverted to woodland. Later Saxon settlements were restricted to the woodland edge or large clearings.

The name Wychwood (Hwiccewudu) derives from the Saxon name for the Hwicce tribe that inhabited the region at this time. The Wychwood Forest is thought to have supplied wood for the Droitwich salt industry. Hwicce princes had a monopoly on salt production in the Droitwich area.

In the reign of Ethelred II (978-1016) a royal hunting lodge was established in the area.


By the 10th century the area had royal associations and in the Domesday Book of 1086 it was recorded as Royal Forest. At this time it stretched over 182 square miles, about 120,00 acres, from Taynton in the west to Woodstock in the east.

The term "forest" was a legal one referring to a tract of land outside (from the Latin word foris) and did not mean that the whole area was wooded.

The King had hunting rights over the whole area designated as Royal Forest, even though much of the land was held by various Lords of the Manor. Only the woodland and a few Farms belonged directly to the King.

C12th and C13th

The pressures of a growing population led to increasing demands for land. Many of the forest villages date from these centuries. Finstock is first recorded in 1135; Ramsden (1146), Fawler (1205), Leafield (1213), Crawley (1214) and Hailey (1240). 

Henry I (1100-1135) created the royal park, building the first park wall in about 1110. The park was used to house his collection of wild animals from many parts of the world. The chronicler, William of Malmesbury refers to lions, leopards, lynxes, camels and even a porcupine.

1154 to 1189, the reign of Henry II

The size of the royal Forest of wychwood was at its greatest.


By 1300AD the forest it was divided into 3 portions, part which included the Bishop of Winchester's Witney estate.

At the perambulation of 1300 the forest ran from Woodstock in the east to beyond Burford in the west, and from Chadlington in the north to Witney and beyond in the south. The Forest covered some 50,000 acres.


From records we know that wood was felled from the great forest at wychwood for ship building and building timbers.