Image of Oxford Historic Towns atlas
Publish date: 
Oxbow Books for the Historic Towns Trust

Oxford is one of Europe's most important and well-known university cities, famous for the quantity and quality of the buildings in its historic core.  Although the city has been the subject of many studies, the Historic Towns Atlas volume presents the history of its growth for the first time through a series of high-quality maps consistently charting its development and expansion across time. 

Until late in its history, the core of the city was contained within its medieval town walls, with a pattern of settlement that became progressively more dense. Finally in the late 18th and early 19th century it burst out to create its famous northern suburbs for the wealthy, as well as the intensively settled suburbs built for workers as its industrial production expanded.

The atlas includes an introductory text edited by Alan Crossley (Victoria County History of Oxfordshire), with major contributions from Julian Munby (Oxford Archaeology) and Malcolm Graham (former Head of Oxfordshire Studies). It also has contributions from Paul Booth and Elizabeth Stafford (Oxford Archaeology), and Philip Powell (Oxford's Natural History Museum).  It has a comprehensive gazetteer of this important university, city and county town with entries on all the principal buildings, structures and streets shown on the maps which in itself will be a great asset to researchers.

The atlas contains a series of maps of the city at the main points in its development: 1050, 1150, 1279, 1400, 1500, 1578, during the Civil War, 1675 and in 1800.  These maps have been produced to a common scale and use common symbology.  The atlas also contains a map of parishes, both medieval and in 1879, a map of the Liberty of Oxford, and reproductions of some of the seminal maps of the city such as Ralph Agas's and David Loggan's.

In addition, there is a detailed map of the city at 1:2500 showing all the sites of Oxford's most important buildings and structures on a base map of c.1870, the first time that such a map of the city has been made.

The volume also presents a 1" OS map of the mid 19th century rescaled to 1:50,000, aerial photographs of the city centre, and many pages of illustrations.  The illustrations are grouped by theme (such as defences and gateways) and many of the illustrations have eitehr never or only rarely been reproduced before.

The maps, text, gazetteer and illustrations are presented in an A3 stiff card binder, and the format allows for maps of different date to be compared side-by-side.

Oxford atlas progress report -  the atlas is now published!

The atlas has now returned from the printers and is currently (December 2021) being released.  Distribution via our book distrbuitors is proving to be a little slower than hoped for (the distributors are moving warehouse) but the book is now available.  The official launch on Friday 10th December (by invitation) had to be postponed at the last minute but will be re-scheduled for 2022. Thank you to all our generous donors for bearing with us on this project. We hope that you are pleased with the results.