Oldbury on the Hill

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Oldbury on the Hill
Nan Tows Tump 343047 8125d5cb.jpg
Nan Tow's Tump, Oldbury-on-the-Hill
Grid reference: ST817882
Location: 51°35’36"N, 2°15’53"W
Local Government
Council: Cotswold

Oldbury on the Hill is a small village in Gloucestershire, less than a mile north of the village of Didmarton.


Oldbury-on-the-Hill has been inhabited since prehistoric times, from which period is Nan Tow's Tump, a round barrow beside the A46 road; a Bronze Age earthwork and archaeological site.[1] The barrow, overgrown with trees, is about thirty yards in diameter and ten feet high.[2][3] The name 'Nan Tow's Tump' is from a local legend: Nan Tow is said to have been a local witch, who was buried upright in the barrow.[4][5][6]

The Domesday Book of 1086 calls the village Aldeberie.[7] Before 1066, it was held by Eadric, Sheriff of Wiltshire, and in 1086 by Ernulf de Hesdin.[8] A document of 972 gives the name as Ealdanbyri, meaning 'old fortification'.[9]

In 1342, the tithe of hay and other lesser tithes in Didmarton and Oldbury-on-the-Hill belonging to Badminton church were assessed at £4 13s. 4d.[8]

Together with neighbouring Didmarton, the parish was subject to enclosure in 1829.[10]

Benjamin Clarke's British Gazetteer (1852) says:

OLDBURY-ON-THE-HILL, Gloucester, a parish in the upper division of the hundd. of Grumbald's Ash, union of Tetbury: 135 miles from London (coach road 102), 6 from Tetbury, 8 from Malmesbury - Gt. West. Rail. through Bristol to Charfield, thence 3 miles: from Derby, through Birmingham to Charfield, &c. 117 miles, Money orders issued at Tetbury: London letters delivd. 9 a.m.: post closes 4 p.m. The living, a rectory with that of Didmorton, in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, is valued at £16: pres. net income, £250: patron, Duke of Beaufort: pres. incumbent, E. J. Everard, 1840: contains 1,870 acres: 84 houses: popn. in 1841, 483: assd. propr. £2,329: poor rates in 1848, £165. 9s.

According to The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868):[11]

OLDBURY-ON-THE-HILL, a parish in the upper division of the hundred of Grumbald's Ash, county Gloucester, 5 miles S.W. of Tetbury. Chippenham is its post town. The village, which is of small extent, is situated among the Cotswold hills. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £245. The living is a rectory with the rectory of Didmarton annexed, in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, joint value £387. The church, dedicated to St Arild or St Ariva, is a small ancient structure. There is a village school supported by the Duchess of Beaufort.

Parish church

The earliest record so far found of a church at Oldbury-on-the-Hill occurs in 1273, when there is a mention of a 'free chapel' there.[12] In 1291, the Rector of Great Badminton had a portion of 8s. and 6d. in the chapel of Oldbury.[8] The oldest part of the present mediæval parish church of Oldbury is estimated to date from the 14th century.[13]

The church shares its ancient dedication to St Arilda with the church of Oldbury-on-Severn, some twenty miles away. St Arilda was a Gloucestershire virgin and martyr who lived at an uncertain time before the Norman Conquest at Kington, near Thornbury, which is now in the parish of Oldbury-on-Severn.

St Arilda's at Oldbury-on-the-Hill has been declared redundant, so is no longer used for regular worship.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Oldbury on the Hill)


  1. History of the Cotswolds at Cotswold Gateway
  2. Neolithic-EBA Excursion number 7 at stonehenge-avebury.net
  3. O'Neil, Helen, & and Grinsell, Leslie, Gloucestershire barrows in Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (1960)
  4. The Cotswolds - Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age Sites at digital-brilliance.com (accessed 13 April 2008)
  5. Megalithic Portal: Nan Tow's Tump
  6. 'The Exeter Riddling Rhymes' at ralphhoyte.net
  7. Place name: Oldbury on the Hill, Gloucestershire Folio: 169r Great Domesday Book abstract at nationalarchives.gov.uk (accessed 13 April 2008)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Barrow, Julia, & Brooks, Nicholas: 'St Wulfstan and His World' (Ashgate Publishing, 2005) ISBN 0-7546-0802-6 pp. 158-159
  9. Mills, A. D., Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names (Oxford University Press, 2003) ISBN 978-0-19-852758-9, ISBN 0-19-852758-6
  10. Didmarton and Oldbury on the Hill enclosure at National Archives
  11. Hamilton, N. E. S. (ed.), The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (London, J. S. Virtue, 1868)
  12. Phillimore, W. P. W. et al. Inquisitiones Post Mortem for Gloucestershire’’, vol. IV (British Record Society Index Library, 1903) pp. 73-74
  13. Verey, D.: 'The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds' (Penguin Books, 1974) p. 351