What is it?
Prehistoric earthworks in woodland near Warwick
- Landranger Map 151
- Explorer Map 206
Grid reference - SP 30677 59281
Parking - There is a small car park at Oakley Wood. Follow signs for crematorium and park in ‘woodland’ car park on the left of the entrance.
Public transport – Hourly bus service between Leamington Spa and Stratford (not Sundays) stops near the entrance www.stagecoachbus.com
Access - The site is in publicly accessible woodland. Paths over rough ground may be muddy in wet weather. There is an information panel showing the path network in the woodland carpark. Nearest facilities in Ashorne and Bishop’s Tachbrook both about 2km – see OS for footpaths. It is close to Junction 13 on the M40.
What you can see
The Oakley Wood camp is described by Historic England as an example of a slight univallate hillfort but there has been much debate over the years as to its actual date and purpose.
Various interpretations have been put forward including Iron Age Hillfort, banks and ditches associated with woodland management in the medieval period and possibly an enclosure dating from the Bronze Age!
The site has never been excavated.
From the woodland carpark cross the access road leading to the crematorium and take the ‘red’ waymarked footpath through the woodland. Pass through a gate and continue bearing to your left and continuing along the main path until you reach a crossroads with a wide ride running north-south through the woodland.
Cross this onto a narrower path opposite. You will walk over a culvert with a low wooden barrier to either side.
Looking to your left thorough the trees you will see a straight bank veering away from the path which is up to 2.5 m high in places.
This bank eventually turns back towards the path and where it crosses it you will find an interpretation panel about the site.
The earthworks form an irregular five sided enclosure defined by a single rampart and an outer ditch which is largely filled in. The site is well used by dog walkers and the ramparts can be relatively easily followed along paths through the woodland generally surviving to about 1m high. The interior of the camp is about 4.7ha in extent.
There are at least six gaps in the circuit, but of these only those to the north-east or east are thought to be original.
The site is a scheduled monument which means it is protected by law.
This means metal detecting and unauthorised digging at the site is not allowed.
There are many other, generally smaller, banks and ditches in the woodland which are associated with the management of the area in medieval times and this has led some people to interpret the site as dating from this period. However, it is considered more likely that those managing the woodland in the medieval period encountered the existing enclosure and made use of the substantial banks and ditches. More recent assessment of the site places it in the prehistoric period and many now believe it is early, perhaps even Bronze Age in origin.
The woodland also has considerable wildlife interest and is well worth exploring for its flora and fauna. See the Friends of Oakley Wood website for more information about wildlife and the medieval history of the woodland including a map of the site. http://www.oakleywood.org.uk
Find out more:
Thomas, N, Transactions of Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society: An archaeological Gazetteer for Warwickshire Vol 86 (1974)
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