Wytham Hill



Just Before it flows through Oxford, the River Thames nukes a great loop to the north, east and then south, running in a wide alluvial valley that still gets partly flooded in winter. In this shepherd’s crook of river lie two hills closely connected by a col and shaped rather like a twisted figure of eight, rising about 300 feet above the river level. These are part of the ring of hills that surrounds the basin in which the City of Oxford lies. Inside the river loop the University now possesses 3400 acres of land — or a little over five square miles — of which the wooded part of the hills themselves with some enclaves of park and arable fields form about a third (Frontispiece and Plates 6 and 7). The northern one is Wytham Hill, the southern one Seacourt Hill; but I shall refer to the whole block that runs two and a half miles from north-west to south-east as Wytharn Hill, as indeed is general practice nowadays except among geologists. (Seacourt was a medieval village that was formerly at the terminus of a pilgrims’ route to a holy well near Binsey329 but deserted by 1439, even its foundations being now obliterated by a new road, and its name only in general use for a small channel of the Thames network running nearby — the Seacourt Stream.)


Animal Community Thirteenth Century Ecological Survey Acer Campestre Wonderful Variety 
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© Charles S. Elton 1966

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