The Cotswolds


The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is one of the best-known and distinctive regions of England, characterized by its rolling landscape and mellow limestone buildings. Begin your journey by tracing the area's geological origins in the Jurassic era to present day.

Look at the impact of prehistoric man in the region through the surviving archaeological record of Neolithic burial mounds, Bronze Age field systems and Iron Age hill forts. Examine the Roman period through the towns of Bath and Cirencester and villas such as Chedworth. Evidence of the Anglo-Saxons will be derived from place names, pagan burial sites and early towns such as Winchcombe. The Cotswolds has a rich medieval landscape seen through the development of market towns and their close links with the wool trade, as well as the importance of monasteries in the growth of the medieval wool and textile industries.

The Black Death in the 14th century brought a dramatic fall in the area's population, resulting in fundamental changes in agricultural practice, including the depopulation of many rural settlements. The golden age of the Cotswolds came in the later Middle Ages when it became one of the most prosperous regions in the country, characterized by its magnificent wool churches at places such as Northleach and Chipping Campden. The textile industry continued to flourish into the 19th century, seen by examining the resulting landscape in the Stroud area. In the canal and railway age, the Cotswolds went into a sharp decline, a depopulation and an eventual revival through the activities of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Arts and Crafts movement. This revival was further enhanced by the growth of tourism between World Wars I and II. Discuss the impact of these developments through an analysis of the classic Cotswold towns of Cirencester, Northleach, Burford and Chipping Campden.

Recommended Reading

Catchpole, Antonia; Clark, David; and Peberdy, Robert Burford Buildings in a Cotswold Town (Phillimore, 2008)

Darvill, Timothy Long Barrows of the Cotswolds and Surrounding Areas (The History Press, 2010)

Goudie, Andrew and Parker, Adrian The Geomorphology of the Cotswolds (Cotwold Naturalists Field Club, 1996)

Greensted, Mary The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Cotswolds (Allan Sutton, 1993)

Hadfield, Charles and Hadfield, Alice Mary The Cotswolds: A New Study (David and Charles, 1973)

Hurst, Derek Sheep in the Cotswolds: The Medieval Wool Trade (Tempus, 2006)

Jordan, Tim Cotswold Barns (Tempus, 2006)

Mander, Nicholas Country Houses in the Cotswolds (Country Life, 2008)

Moriarty, Denis Buildings of the Cotswolds (Gollanz, 2000)

Powell, Philip The Geology of Oxfordshire (Dovecote Press, 2005)

Tankard, Judith Gardens of the Arts and Crafts Movement: Reality and Imagination (Harry N. Abrams, 2004)

Verey, David and Brooks, Alan The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire 1: The Cotswolds (2nd Edition, Pevsner Architectural Guides, Penguin Books, 1999)


Field Trips

  • Cirencester, Chedworth, Belas Knap and a hillfort
  • Northleach, Chipping Campden, Upton deserted village, Snowshill (National Trust)
  • Stroud and Bath

Tutor Biography

Trevor Rowley, M.A., M.Litt., FSA, Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford University, is an archaeologist and landscape historian. His books include Villages in the Landscape, Norman England and The English Landscape in the 20th Century. Rowley has directed excavations on a wide range of Romano-British and medieval sites in Britain and Europe. He has taught and directed at Oxford University summer schools for many years and was former deputy director of the Department for Continuing Education.