Last Update: 30th May 2019

This is the Notes & Queries page for the Horspath Archaeology & History Group.


Shotover royal forest and Old Horspath - from Ivan Wright (28 May 2018)

The size of the Shotover royal forest (Crown land) is unknown for before 1298 and may have been larger before then, when boundary disputes were settled. Thereafter it generally shrank in area (and certainly didn't expand) until eventual disafforestation in 1660 - when it was a fraction of its former area - but remained Crown land. There is no evidence that Old Horspath would have been in Shotover forest and no evidence of attempted extension from that direction by royal land-grab - certainly not after 1298.

I don't know whether Bernwood royal forest could have extended this far south, but there would be no significant Shotover connection. There is no evidence of Shotover being part of Bernwood post-1298 (Shotover has also been published - in recent decades - as being part of Wychwood but I've not found any evidence to support this and is very unlikely). The only relevant reference to Bernwood in David Steel's book indicates that Bernwood and Shotover were still quite different royal forests in 1443. There was such a lot of Baronial resistance to royal forest expansion, at least around here, that I might suggest that Upper Horspath survived all of the royal land-grab.

I still go with the view that Abingdon Abbey/Cuddesdon holds the key to why Upper Horspath declined.

Also, the legend of John Copcot choking a wild boar on Shotover (deriving the Boars Head Ceremony at Queen's College, for example) is supposed to have taken place on Christmas Day 1376 (and just before the last Poll Tax Return - see Chris Pym's report, page 8) while 'walking through Shotover Forest to Horspath Church'. But which church?! Perhaps Queen's have some info.