Nature Reserves

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Brasenose Wood, OxfordWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

Brasenose Wood
Managed by:Oxford City Council
OS grid reference:SP 557 049
Nearest postcode:OX4 2FF
Usual work:Coppicing

Brasenose Woods is an extensive woodland that is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Much of the site is an ancient remnant of the Shotover Forest which dates back to the thirteenth century and it provides vital habitat for a diversity of flora, fauna, invertebrates and birds.


Brasenose Woods lies on poorly-drained Kimmeridge clays, with oolitic limestone outcrops within the woods and towards the South-West boundary. This provides habitat for a mixture of moisture loving and limestone flora within the woodland.

Flora and Fauna

Over 221 vascular plant species have been recorded at the site, including 46 species that are characteristic of ancient woodland. The canopy of the woodland is mainly mature pedunculate oak. There are also mature hazel coppices and a sprinkling of field maple, silver birch, aspen, beech, rowan, wild cherry and yew. Blackthorn, hawthorn, Midland hawthorn, dogwood, holly, crap apple and bramble are abundant within the wood. On the woodland floor of more open areas, such as around the coppices, a selection of wild flora can be found, including orpine, goldilocks buttercup, nettle-leaved bellflower and henbane. Wood meadow grass and deadly nightshade also flourish at the site.

The rare black hairstreak butterfly is among the invertebrate inhabitants at the site due to plentiful blackthorn, which provides the main food source for the black hairstreak larvae. A large number of birds have been spotted within Brasenose Woods, including the tree pipit and grasshopper warbler.

Conservation Management

The coppice layer of the woodland is managed with the assistance of OCV and the Oxford City Council so that it is able to support a rich variety of habitats by letting in light ready for another generation of growth. Coppicing extends the natural life of trees almost indefinitely and creates a patchwork of different-aged woodland that encourages biodiversity. It is the traditional way of managing woodland in England to provide a sustainable supply of wood products. The wide rides are also maintained in order to provide sunny areas for flora and fauna to thrive at the edge of the woodland, whilst allowing public access to the site.


There are two areas at this site where we work.

Access to the first location is from the Brasenose farmhouse exit on the Oxford ring road. This is a small turning off the ring road just before the turning to Horsepath when travelling clockwise around the ring road.

You can access the second location is by going East along Old Road. Soon after Old Road crosses the Eastern Bypass but before it goes steeply uphill, take a right turn along The Ridings. Continue along this rough, single track road past a water company site and some big houses until you get to a muddy gateway to the right with an Oxford City Council sign telling you not to block it.