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Oxford…City of Ford

Oxford got its name in 12th century when the significant people chose a communal seal that displayed a city of towers defended by battlements in the front of a valiant and protective Ox which gave the place its name. The most noteworthy thing about the city is that nowhere in the city or at the city’s endless boundary stones, any of the coats of arms, cast iron lamp posts or any current logos, you will see the Ox yoked or harnessed or pulling a plough or cart. The citizens considered the Ox as spiritual protective emblem. It was painted on the fire-buckets and the battle standards. Ox is considered to be a fearless and wild beast that cannot be tamed. In the year 1958, the soldiers of the city marched towards east to Essex to face the Spanish troops with the city’s Ox wiggling above them.  The banner that was carried on this occasion was treasured. The city council voted a reward of 40 shillings to Capt. Warde, considering that he brought the colors of the city back safely from Tilberie.



The exact name of the ford that gave the city this name is registered in a property deed of 1352. A narrow plot of meadow, approximately 1500m west of the crossroads at Carfax and 500 meters south to the main route west from the city, the Botley Road, the plot naming ‘Ox-ford’. Two local historians named Brian Twyne and Anthony Wood knew about the deed. It took the place for everyday use by a steel foot bridge. The Ox-ford reclines at a most interesting spot on a Roman Road from the south-west that stops there and has been tracked down no further to the north-east, in spite of the fact that it may one day be found in the grounds of Worcester College. In the 1890s some memorable findings were produced from the ford of Minster Ditch that includes an axe and a spearhead of Bronze Age, an iron dagger in an ornate bronze sheath and a brooch, both of Iron Age. In 1889 an industrious local clergyman, Andrew Clark got confused about the deed of 1352. He edited Wood’s City of Oxford; his footnote locates the ford on ‘one of the streams which runs between Botley and Oxford Castle’. In 1917 another industrious clergymen H.E. Salter, published a reference to the ford in papers of a lawsuit of 1376 between the town and Oseney Abbey about boundaries and jurisdiction but could not place it exactly. Sometime later when Salter was preparing college archives for publication, he came across the original deed of 1352. Due to this deal he was able to locate the ford with the help of the map in 1848 when the meadows were circumscribed. He wrote short article ‘The Ford of Oxford’ and sent it to the journal, Antiquity and it got published in the year 1928. Later in 1929 he published the full deed and other important documents. In 1973 Professor R.H.C Davis wrote an article declaring that the St. Aldate’s line was original ‘oxen’s ford’ that consisted a whole series of ford which could be negotiated by heavy ox-carts. He also claimed that the citizen’s case in 1376 was fraud and corrupt attempt to expand their jurisdiction. But critics renounced his finding and claim because he ignored three essential pieces of verification i.e. the Roman Road, finds from the Minster Ditch and the original property deed of 1352 which indicated the exact location of the ford. He in addition to this was unsuccessful in explaining that the lawsuit was just one of the many boundary disputes in the 14th century while the town was gradually decaying and in the 17th century the city or the town expanded rapidly.


If the deed of property in 1352 is ignored and put to side, there are many fords all around the Oxford, so probably any of the fords or rather all might be the ford. It will be useful to include that the channel upstream from the ‘Ox-ford’ is named Bullstake stream. So it preferably suggests that there might be a post on the stream sculpted with a bull or bull’s head probably, or a bull’s skull nailed to a post. It is said and believed with no concrete evidence that the Oxford might be the place of sacrifice or fabled mythological battle and one fine day the skeleton of an ox or gravel deposits. There can be possibilities of a battle place possibly in the reign of King Alfred and the soldiers who fought under the banner of an ox might have won the battle. There can be number of speculations, a number of ifs and buts, a number theories and analysis, it is tiring and unimaginative to hypothesize that the name Oxford is about heavy ox-carts crossing the series of fords. Unearth more information about the city through oxford tour that tells everything about the story of this metropolis.


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