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University Botanic Gardens High Street Oxford

Gill, Jonathan University Botanic Gardens High Street Oxford. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Oxford Archaeology has undertaken a small project to record a well which has been
partially exposed towards the southern corner of the walled garden at the Botanic
Gardens, Oxford. The well was revealed by contractors working to clear the felled
branches of an important old Black Pine tree which had partially collapsed.
The stone-lined well has a diameter of 85 cm and although it is largely filled with
water it was possible to confirm that it was at least 2.8 m deep (below ground level).
The stone-lined walls of the well stop c.50 cm below the current ground level and
above this there appears to be the fragmentary remains of a rougher structure which
may once have converged to form some form of a cover over the well. This is probably
the remaining section of a rudimentary cap constructed over the well when it fell into
disuse although it is possible that it related to a pump on top of the well.
There appears to be no clear documentary reference to a well here and it is not shown
on historic maps. The Ordnance Survey 1:500 town plan from 1876 shows the path
distinctly curving around this point, as if there had been a feature here such as a well,
but there is a tree shown on the footprint of the well. Presumably the well had been a
relatively early feature (18th-century?) and that it had already been removed by 1876,
possibly with a tree placed over it to form a simple cap.
It may be slightly surprising that this utilitarian structure from where gardeners would
have taken water to feed the plants, would have been located in the main walled
garden when it could have been sited immediately outside the wall just a few feet
away. This may be an indication of how the gardens were principally a scientific
institution, albeit one that did allow visitors, rather than a formal garden and
aesthetics were not an over-riding concern.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Oxfordshire
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology South > Buildings
Depositing User: Scott
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2019 12:01
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2019 12:01
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/4984

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