Unearthing Old Horsepath

On Friday the 18th May a group of folk from across the area gathered in the Hub to talk about possible projects which could take place around Horspath to explore our near and ancient past.  It was chaired by Chris Pine and Sally Humphrey who in the past has excavated the site of Old Horsepath village on the Walker’s land.  Participants were encouraged to read through the document Chris had produced (see below) and to come with their questions on the evening.

2018 Old Horsepath 2nd edn 2nd draft MD02 Feb (3)

There were many questions at the meeting which ranged from exploring the site of the church at Old Horsepath to the destroyed bronze age barrow.  Following on from the meeting, Sally has produced a list of possible projects which include:


Research List for Horspath Archaeological Group

1) Test pits to investigate cropmarks (hut circles?) on field above Open Brasenose leading up to Westhill farm to check for diagnostic evidence of a Roman era settlement (see p 56/7 of OH paper)


2) Fieldwalking and/or test pits after ploughing to investigate cropmarks of possible Iron Age/Roman farm opposite Cuddesdon turn. (See p 20/21 of OH paper)



3) Investigate (who/how?) PRO copy of 1377 Poll Tax Returns for names of tax payers in Old Horsepath  (p8 of OH paper)


4 ) Walking tour of Old Horsepath site and Hollowbrook valley & check hedgerow for possible test pit sites


5) Plan to investigate/excavate the cropmark of a possible church at Old Horsepath.  (p12) This is a big task & if we do go ahead we’ll need an electric cattle fence to protect the dig from the fifty-odd frisky young steers who inhabit that field. Also, please bear in mind that if any human remains are found we are legally obliged to suspend operations immediately and call in the Police. They would normally call out their on-call archaeologists to decide what happens next.


(NB: Respect for a human being’s last resting place is an archaeological imperative)


5.. Research Diocese or college archives (?) to see if any documents are extant concerning a church at Old Horsepath (Horsepath Superior) in the 14th century


6   Re-dig the Hollowbrook Spring streambed for more and perhaps earlier diagnostic medieval potsherds


7   Deeper test pits on site of track leading to the Hollowbrook spring. In Summer the ground should not be so waterlogged & perhaps evidence of earlier use might  be found. Also look for wooden remains – plates/bowls (p24)


9.. Possible test pit close to higher spring between OH site and Hollowbrook Spring for dating evidence


10.. A walk along the possible ancient route from the main Roman road in Quarry, along the Ridings to Horspath and beyond to familiarise those interested with the background landscape (p45/46)



11.. Contact Philip Powell to find out how stone from Quarry can be differentiated from that of the Wheatley quarries. (p46)


  1. Plan search for a possible Roman Villa somewhere on Shotover (p58)


13)   Get permission to dig a few test pits around the millpond of the “lost” Cuddesdon watermill to look for Roman sherds (p 62)


If you are interested in any of these projects, please contact sally on sallylhumphrey@gmail.com.