Investigating Oxford's heritage

Many people have worked hard throughout the centuries to record and better understand Oxford and its heritage. Their hard work has provided a rich resource for us to investigate making it is much easier for us to find out about our heritage than it otherwise would have been.

Below are a list of events, websites and downloadable documents that provide information, ideas and a better understanding of what the city has to offer, today, yesterday and for the future.

Studies and downloads

Events and Places

  • Oxford Archaeology Day - this event has become an established showcase for Archaeology in Oxford; it includes Family fun and hands-on activities and talks.
  • Oxford Open Doors - a weekend of celebrating what is special about Oxford, its places, spaces and people.
  • Discovering Places - a celebration of Oxford's Green spaces, focusing on the Oxford Preservation Trusts 900 acres of land. Introducing people to local wildlife and fauna.
  • Oxford College Archives - although these pages deal principally with the archives of the Oxford colleges, you will find information about, and links to, many other local archives and to other resources which will help you in your research.
  • Museum of Oxford - two exciting Museum Galleries within the Town Hall that will use great interactive tools to tell the fascinating story of Oxford and its people.
  • The Oxfordshire History Centre   - Oxfordshire Record Office, Oxfordshire Studies and Oxfordshire Health Archives are now all in one building where you will find a variety of resources for researching family history, house history and local history.
  • The Ashmolean - founded in 1683, the Ashmolean is Britain's first public museum and home to the University of Oxford's world-class collections of art and archaeology.
  • Oxford University Natural History Museum - the Oxford University Museum of Natural History houses the University's scientific collections of zoological, entomological and geological specimens.
  • Pitt Rivers Museum - the Museum cares for the University of Oxford's collection of anthropology and world archaeology.
  • Oxford Castle Unlocked  - the site has been used as a place of incarceration since 1071, continuing until the closure of HM Prison in 1996. The old buildings have been preserved and are now open to the public revealing a time capsule, allowing the buildings to tell their story.
  • Bodleian Library - a working library which forms part of the University of Oxford.

Local online research tools

Below are a number of websites and other information sources that will be useful for researching the historical development of an area, place, space or building in Oxford and beyond.

  • Oxfordshire Historic Environment Record - formerly the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) - is an index (both paper and computer based) of all known archaeological and historical sites in the county. A database of archaeological records and other local historic information is available from Oxfordshire County Archaeological Service by appointment:
  • Oxfordshire History Centre - combines the archive resources of the County Record Office with local studies library. Provides information of interest for local history studies, including a range of primary and secondary sources with guidance from specialist staff.
  • Oxfordshire Heritage Search - a database of historic sources including access to some of the Henry Taunt collection of historic photographs of Oxford and the region.
  • Conservation Area Appraisals - provide a detailed assessment of the character of a single conservation area to assist in its management through the planning system.
  • Oxford History - a page with lots of information about the history of Oxford maintained by a local expert.
  • The Oxfordshire Buildings Record - this group undertake recording of historic buildings and areas and may be able to help with your research. They have also undertaken and published a number of studies of areas within the city.
  • Oxford College Archives - historically the Oxford Colleges owned a significant amount of land across the city and their archives continue to provide an invaluable source for understanding the city's development. Most of them are available for consultation by appointment.
  • Oxford University Archives - Oxford University maintains an archive of information concerning its administration including records of its departments and faculties.
  • Bodleian Library - the Bodleian Library is a working library which forms part of the University of Oxford.
  • Victoria County History, Oxfordshire - the VCH has written the history of more than 3500 English parishes and published more than 225 volumes since Hampshire volume I was published in 1900

National online resources

  • Heritage Gateway - access to databases of information about historic buildings and sites recorded by English Heritage and includes Oxford City Council archaeological data.
  • Old Maps - access to historic Ordnance Survey maps dating from the mid-19th to the late 20 century.
  • British History Online - a web-site with access to transcriptions of historic documents, historic maps and the Victoria County History. Reimagining the High Street.
  • Historypin  - Historypin is a way for millions of people to come together, from across different generations, cultures and places, to share small glimpses of the past and to build up the huge story of human history.
  • West End Oxford - the regeneration of Oxford's West End is an ambitious and exciting project that aims to revitalise the west of the city centre, returning it to its former role as the civic heart of Oxford.
  • National Archives - the National Archives is the UK government's official archive, containing over 1,000 years of history.
  • British LibraryThe British Library lets you explore 14 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 58 million patents, 3 million sound recordings, and much more.

Community involvement in heritage

  • Archaeology of East OxfordThe East Oxford Project wants to uncover the past of your area, working with local people. However ordinary your surroundings might appear, there's a story waiting to be discovered.
  • Oxford Historical SocietyThe Society exists to publish archives, historical texts, bibliographical tools and studies about Oxford - the City as much as the University, its Halls and Colleges - and the neighbouring villages and towns in pre-1972 Oxfordshire.
  • Oxford Buildings RecordThe OBR's provides practical training in building recording and publishes the results in a regular newsletter, develops an archive of building records within the Oxfordshire Record Office and helps and encourages local history societies and groups.