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The Bounds of Olney Discussed by Michael Reed


This perambulation begins in the south and goes in a clockwise direction round the ancient parish of Olney. This included what is now the civil parish of Olney Park, which is based upon a medieval deer park licensed in 1374. Only the Ouse can be identified from place-name evidence. These boundaries were studied in Anon., ‘Olney’s Anglo-Saxon Charter’, Wolverton and District Archaeological Society Newsletter No. 11 (1967), 22-4.

þis sint þara .x. hyda landgemære æt Ollanege. Ærest on Calewan were (1) andlang lace into halgan broce (2); andlang broces to halgan welle (3); of þere welle to dene æccre (4); of dene æcre andlang dene to đreo gemære (5); of đrim gemærum on ecgan croft (6); of ecgan crofte on đa dic (7); andlang dices on þone feld (8), þæt andlang wyrttruman on Hildes hlæw (9); of Hildes hlæwe on þone stan (10); of đam stane on đone broc (11); andlang broces inon Use (12); andlang Use on Wilinford (13); of þam forde andlang Use to Kekan were (14); of Kekan were andlang Use (15) on Caluwan wer (1).

(Society of Antiquaries of London, Soc. Ant MS 60 f.35)

Translation of the bounds. Michael Reed’s comments on each boundary point are in the square brackets.

1 First to the bare weir. [It is likely that this is the weir to Olney mill, just to the south-east of the church. A mill in Domesday Book was worth 40s. and yielded 200 eels.]
2 Along the stream into the holy brook. [The boundary goes up the Ouse to the south-west point of the estate to join the holy brook. T. Wright, The Town of Cowper 1893, p. 186 suggests that in the eighteenth century this brook was called Ho.brook. Perhaps this is a defective spelling for Holy brook.]
3 Along the brook to the holy well. [The boundary then ascends the holy brook almost to its source.]
4 From the well to the valley acre. [The point where the boundary joins the county boundary and then turns north is at the head of a valley formed by a stream which flows south and east through Weston Park to join the holy brook.]
5 From valley acre along the valley to the three boundaries. [The boundary then runs just under the crest of a ridge to the point where three boundaries, Olney, Warrington and the parish of Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire, meet.]
6 From the three boundaries to Ecga’s croft. [None of the next three points can be certainly identified but it is likely that Ecga’s croft was at the first change of direction in the boundary.]
7 From Ecga’s croft to the dike.
8 Along the ditch to the open country. [Feld means ‘open country, free from wood’, but late Old English, it has developed an new meaning, ‘land for pasture or cultivation’. Both meanings may imply extensive common grazing ground.
9 Then along the wyrttruman to Hild’s burial mound. [At this point the boundary runs almost parallel to, and just below the 275 feet contour. This may have been the wyrttruman. There is now no trace of Hild’s burial mound but it provides another example of a boundary tumulus.]
10 From Hild’s burial mound to the stone. [There may have been a prominent stone to mark the last change in direction of the boundary before the stream.]
11 From the stone to the brook.
12 Along the brook into the Ouse.
13 Along the Ouse to the willow ford. [The building of the railway disturbed the ancient patter. Of footpaths and lanes in this locality but it seems very likely that there was once a ford here.]
14 From the ford along Ouse to Keka’s weir. [The maze of channels and islands in this locality would of necessity have meant at least one weir.]
15 From Keka’s weir along Ouse to the bare weir (1). [And so back to the starting point.]

Bounds of Olney by M. Reed
(click on the image to enlarge)