Dating back to before the Domesday Book, Oxey Mead is an ancient floodplain meadow gracecd by a variety of grasses and wild flowers, insects and birds.

Medieval meadows

This small nature reserve is an echo of a bygone era, a time when swathes of wild flowers and butterflies were found in profusion in England's meadows and pastures. Between 1930 and 1984 an estimated 97% of these lowland grasslands went under the plough, or were drained.

Ox hay and cherry wood

Oxey (once Oxhay) is one of several surviving ancient 'lot' meadows near the city of Oxford which date to medieval times. Each year, villagers were alloted a strip of land to till by entering a lottery using cherry wood balls - each ball still carries the name of a 13th- or 14th-century villager.

Pageant of colour

In spring and summer, visitors are treated to a changing pageant of wild flowers, some as high as the swaying grasses. In early summer, the crimson heads of great burnet tower over smaller flowers such as common bird's-foot-trefoil, fairy flax and yellow rattle.

In turn, the wild flowers attract butterflies including orange-tip, meadow brown and ringlet. Look out for the day-flying chimney sweeper moth with its distinctive black wings. Grasshoppers, spiders and beetles are also found in abundance.

Bird life

Skylarks sometimes hover high overhead. Waders such as snipe and redshank may be seen in the wetter winter months.

Things to do

Nearby nature reserves

Iffley Meadows
5 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Lashford Lane Fen
6 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Sydlings Copse
6 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Reserve information

3.5 miles north-west of
OX2 8GZ (nearest)
Map reference
SP 478 107
Great for...
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
8.00 hectares
Walking information
Flat; wet in winter and spring; stiles, gate
Parking in lay-by on A40 1.25 miles west of the A40/A44 (Wolvercote) roundabout; walk 0.75 miles east to reserve entrance
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01865 775476

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see.