Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Oxfordshire is known internationally as the home of Oxford and thus Oxford University. Active by the late 11th century, it is not only the oldest university in England but also the second oldest in the world. While Oxford is full of fascinating historic buildings and important museum collections, the county around it is also rich in heritage. Some of England’s most important prehistoric sites can be found here, like the stone circle that forms part of the Rollright Stones complex, the Early Neolithic chambered tomb at Wayland’s Smithy, and the putatively Bronze Age geoglyph known as the Uffington White Horse. There was also Roman occupation in this county, as evidenced at the North Leigh Roman Villa. Oxfordshire’s medieval heritage can be seen at the ruined castles in Oxford and Deddington, as well as at the Great Coxwell Barn, which would have been one of the largest warehouses in England during the Late Middle Ages.

Archaeology & History Sites in Oxfordshire

Rollright Stones

The magnificent Rollright Stones are a complex of prehistoric monuments near Long Compton village. The oldest is the Whispering Knights, a collapsed dolmen that was once part of an Early Neolithic chambered tomb. More impressive is the Kings Men, a Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age stone circle measuring 33 metres in diameter. The solitary King Stone stands not far away. Managed by the Rollright Trust for English Heritage, the Stones also have a rich folklore and are a sacred site for modern Pagans.

Uffington White Horse

The Uffington White Horse is a geoglyph, or an area of grassland where the turf is stripped back to reveal the chalk beneath, in this case crafted into the shape of a colossal horse. At 111 metres (or 360 feet) long the horse can be seen from quite some distance. It is thought to have been first created at the end of the Late Bronze or early Iron Age, but it remains a masterpiece of prehistoric art. The horse is about 170 metres north east of an Iron Age hill fort.

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Museums & Art Galleries in Oxfordshire

Abingdon County Hall Museum

Situated within an ornate Baroque building constructed between 1678 and 1682, Abingdon County Hall Museum contains a range of permanent and temporary exhibits on local history. Built by a protégé of Christopher Wren, the structure was designed as a town hall and courtroom before being converted into a museum in 1919. Its archaeological and historical collections range from the prehistoric to the modern and include a replica of the famous Viking Age “Abingdon Sword.” Owned by Abingdon Town Council, entry is free.

Ashmolean Museum

Established in 1683 and with an international reputation, the Ashmolean Museum is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology. Having started life as the private collection of Elias Ashmole, who then donated it to the university, it was the world’s second university museum to open. The present building was erected in the 1840s and renovated in the 2000s. Its collections are diverse, comprising material from ancient Egypt to early medieval England, and contain many famous objects, like the Alfred Jewel and Oliver Cromwell’s death mask.