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Top 10 Hidden Gems in Oxford

Updated: Mar 12

Your Ultimate Guide to exploring off-the-beaten track locations scattered across Oxford.


Oxford is known for being a literature-focused and historic city; with many tourists visiting to explore the many museums in the area. However, if you look hard enough you'll find some little gems which the typical tourist doesn't know about.


In this article, we share the top 10 hidden gems in Oxford which you need to add to your Oxford bucket list this year. We hope you enjoy!




1) Godstow Abbey


A very holy and atmospheric abbey located in Godstow which even some locals don't know about. It's a great place to spend a few hours, especially along the Riverside. It's a very quiet location; you may find the odd dog walker when you visit but apart from that you will more than likely have the whole ruins to yourself!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Godstow Abbey


1) Where is Godstow Abbey located?

Godstow Abbey is situated in the village of Godstow, just northwest of Oxford city center in Oxfordshire, England. It is nestled along the banks of the River Thames, providing a picturesque setting for visitors to explore.


2) Is Godstow Abbey open to the public?

Yes, Godstow Abbey ruins are open to the public year-round. Visitors can explore the historic remains of the abbey, including the picturesque ruins of the church and other structures. Please note that access may be limited during certain times or events.


3) Can visitors swim in the river near Godstow Abbey?

While the River Thames flows near Godstow Abbey, swimming in the river is not recommended due to safety concerns, strong currents, and potential hazards. However, visitors can enjoy scenic walks along the riverbanks and admire the serene beauty of the area.


Image of Godstow Abbey in Oxford


2) Devil's Quoits


A great location to see Neolithic Stones and take a pleasant explore through the woods. To add a bit of history to the site; it's a reconstruction of a Neolithic henge dated 4900 to 4600 years.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Devil's Quoits


1) Where is Devil's Quoits located?

Devil's Quoits is an ancient stone circle located near the village of Stanton Harcourt, just west of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England. The site is easily accessible by road and is situated in a picturesque rural setting.


2) Is Devil's Quoits open to the public?

Yes, Devil's Quoits is open to the public year-round. Visitors can freely explore the stone circle and its surroundings, enjoying its historical significance and tranquil atmosphere. However, it's essential to respect the site and avoid any damage to the stones.


3) What is the history of Devil's Quoits?

Devil's Quoits is believed to be a Neolithic or Bronze Age stone circle dating back over 4,000 years. It consists of a ring of standing stones, although only a few stones remain upright today. The purpose of the circle remains uncertain, but it is thought to have had religious or ceremonial significance for the ancient inhabitants of the area.


Image of Devil's Quoits in Oxford

3) Grand Cascade


An amazing place to visit especially after heavy rainfall! It's located in the midst of the tranquillity of the garden/woodlands walk and seeing the cascade is such a reward. We definitely recommend visiting at Christmas time as the annual illustration shows are not to miss!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Grand Cascade


1) Where is the Grand Cascade located?

The Grand Cascade is located within the grounds of Blenheim Palace, near the town of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England. Blenheim Palace is easily accessible by road and is a popular tourist destination in the area.


2) Is the Grand Cascade open to the public?

Yes, the Grand Cascade is open to the public as part of the larger Blenheim Palace estate. Visitors can explore the grounds, including the cascade, by purchasing tickets to the palace. The cascade is a stunning feature of the landscape and is often a highlight of the visit.


3) What is the history of the Grand Cascade?

The Grand Cascade is a magnificent water feature designed by the famous landscape architect Capability Brown in the 18th century. It is part of the extensive landscaping of the Blenheim Palace estate and was created to enhance the natural beauty of the grounds. Today, the cascade continues to delight visitors with its impressive design and picturesque setting.


Image of Grand Cascade in Oxford


4) The Harry Potter Tree


The Harry Potter Tree is also located within Blenheim Palace for those visiting the Grand Cascades too, so we recommend visiting when you're in the area. It's a lovely tree and an amazing bit of cinema history of a breath-taking estate.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting The Harry Potter Tree


1) Where is the Harry Potter Tree located at Blenheim Palace?

The Harry Potter Tree at Blenheim Palace is located within the palace grounds, near the Great Lake. It gained fame after appearing in the Harry Potter film series, particularly in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."


2) What scenes from Harry Potter were filmed at the Harry Potter Tree?

The tree was featured in the Harry Potter films as the backdrop for several scenes, including the one where Harry and Hermione meet Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood before the climactic battle in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."


3) Can visitors access the Harry Potter Tree at Blenheim Palace?

Yes, visitors to Blenheim Palace can access the grounds where the Harry Potter Tree is located. While the tree itself may not be explicitly marked, fans often recognise it from its appearance in the films. Visitors can enjoy exploring the picturesque palace grounds and may even discover other notable landmarks featured in the Harry Potter series.


Image of The Harry Potter Tree in Oxford

5) The Column of Victory


A fairly simple honouring column which has a great viewpoint towards the palace as it's lined up perfectly! It's not too far away for The Harry Potter Tree either.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting The Column of Victory


1) Where is the Column of Victory located in Oxford?

The Column of Victory is located in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, near Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England. It stands as a tribute to the First Duke of Marlborough's victory in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.


2) Can visitors access the Column of Victory at Blenheim Palace?

Yes, visitors to Blenheim Palace can access the grounds where the Column of Victory is situated. The palace is open to the public for guided tours, allowing visitors to explore the surrounding parkland and discover landmarks such as the Column of Victory.


3) What is the significance of the Column of Victory?

The Column of Victory was erected in honor of the First Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, for his decisive victory over the French and Bavarian forces at the Battle of Blenheim during the War of the Spanish Succession. It serves as a symbol of Britain's military triumph and is an iconic feature of the Blenheim Palace estate.


Image of The Column of Victory in Oxford

6) North Leigh Roman Villa


This hidden gem are well preserved low walls of a Roman Villa which are free to visit. Visitors can enjoy villa walls, hypocaust, baths as well as courtyard clears. There are clear information boards which are available to read too.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting North Leigh Roman Villa


1) Where is North Leigh Roman Villa located?

North Leigh Roman Villa is situated near the village of North Leigh in Oxfordshire, England. It is located approximately six miles northwest of Oxford city center.


2) Can visitors explore North Leigh Roman Villa?

Yes, North Leigh Roman Villa is open to the public. Visitors can explore the remains of the Roman villa, including its well-preserved mosaic floors and bathhouse, which provide insights into daily life during the Roman occupation of Britain.


3) What is the history of North Leigh Roman Villa?

North Leigh Roman Villa dates back to the Roman period, with evidence suggesting that it was inhabited from the 1st to the 4th century AD. It was originally a farming estate but later developed into a substantial villa complex with multiple rooms and amenities, reflecting its importance in the local area.


Image of North Leigh Roman Villa in Oxford


7) Old Mans Bridge


This little bridge has been a known landmark since the late 19th century. It's a footbridge over the River Thames so there isnt much to see!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Old Mans Bridge


1) Where is Old Man's Bridge located?

Old Man's Bridge is situated in Oxford, England, spanning across the River Cherwell. It is located near the University Parks and provides a picturesque crossing over the river.


2) What is the history of Old Man's Bridge?

Old Man's Bridge has a long history and is believed to have been constructed in the medieval period, possibly as early as the 13th century. It served as an important crossing point over the River Cherwell, connecting different parts of Oxford.


3) Is Old Man's Bridge accessible to the public?

Yes, Old Man's Bridge is accessible to the public and can be visited by pedestrians. It offers a scenic spot for walking, picnicking, and enjoying the tranquil surroundings along the riverbank.


Image of Old Mans Bridge in Oxford

8) Wayland's Smithy


Described as some as being even better than Stonehedge, this gem is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and admire some history. It's a 4500 year old long barrow burial chamber, and is located in a small forested area in the middle of a field. Definitely recommend visiting if you're in the area!


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Wayland's Smithy


1) Where is Wayland's Smithy located?

Wayland's Smithy is an ancient long barrow and Neolithic chambered tomb located near the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire, England. It is situated within the ancient landscape of the Ridgeway, a historic trackway.


2) What is the history of Wayland's Smithy?

Wayland's Smithy dates back to the Neolithic period, around 3,500 BCE, making it over 5,000 years old. It was used as a burial site and is named after the mythical figure Wayland, a legendary smith associated with the site in folklore.


3) Is Wayland's Smithy open to the public?

Yes, Wayland's Smithy is open to the public year-round and is managed by English Heritage. Visitors can explore the ancient monument, walk around the site, and learn about its fascinating history and significance in prehistoric Britain.


Image of Wayland's Smithy in Oxford


9) Chedworth Roman Villa


You can almost imagine Roman life when you visit these ruins! It also makes you appreciate how advanced they were when it came to buildings and even underfloor heating. Visitors will be able to see amazing remains of mosaic tiled floors which are preserved for all to see.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Chedworth Roman Villa


1) Where is Chedworth Roman Villa located?

Chedworth Roman Villa is situated near the village of Chedworth in Gloucestershire, England, within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is approximately 6 miles northeast of Cirencester.


2) What is the history of Chedworth Roman Villa?

Chedworth Roman Villa is a well-preserved Roman villa complex dating back to the 2nd century AD. It was originally discovered in the 19th century and is one of the largest and most elaborate Roman villas in Britain.


3) Is Chedworth Roman Villa open to the public?

Yes, Chedworth Roman Villa is open to the public and managed by the National Trust. Visitors can explore the remains of the villa, including its mosaic floors, hypocaust heating system, and bathhouse, while learning about life in Roman Britain.


Image of Chedworth Roman Villa in Oxford

10) Liddington Hillfort


Experience amazing views of Wiltshire from Swindon's highest viewing point! It's a lovely historic place to visit and it's well worth a wander around if you're in the area. Visitors can sit back and take in the English countryside surrondings.


FAQs/Things to know before visiting Liddington Hillfort


1) Where is Liddington Hillfort located?

Liddington Hillfort is situated near the village of Liddington in Oxfordshire, England. It stands atop Liddington Hill, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and nearby landmarks.


2) What is the history of Liddington Hillfort?

Liddington Hillfort is an Iron Age hillfort dating back over 2,000 years. It is one of the most impressive and well-preserved hillforts in the region, with evidence of human occupation dating back to the Bronze Age.


3) Is Liddington Hillfort open to the public?

Yes, Liddington Hillfort is open to the public year-round, and visitors are welcome to explore the site and its surrounding trails. The hillfort offers a unique opportunity to experience ancient history while enjoying the natural beauty of the Oxfordshire countryside.


Image of Liddington Hillfort in Oxford

We hoped you enjoyed discovering the local finds and less known places which are scattered around Oxford. We are confident that visiting some of these hidden gems will make your Oxford trip even more memorable!


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