Oriel's Historians Head to Herefordshire for Reading Party

  • Group of students in a cathedral
    A visit to Gloucester Cathedral to see the tomb of Edward II, Oriel's founder
  • A group of students outside a castle
    The group visits Raglan Castle
  • Photo of a mini van with Oriel College logo
22 April, 2022

During the Easter vacation, a group of twenty-one Oriel historians made up of undergraduates, postgraduates and history Fellow Professor Ian Forrest spent a week on a farm in Herefordshire, exploring the area, cooking together and talking about history books.

This trip, a fixture of the undergraduate and postgraduate history experience at Oriel, was the twelfth Oriel History Reading Party organised by Ian Forrest since its inception in 2008.

Funded by the History Foundation, which receives generous support from Oriel's alumni community, this was the tenth time the event has been held at Upperfields Farm in Herefordshire. The Reading Party offers a valuable opportunity for students to socialise, share ideas and discuss a range of history books in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

This year the group visited Raglan and Skenfrith castles in Wales, and enjoyed a bespoke tour of the medieval chained library at Hereford Cathedral. They were also treated to an expert interpretation of the Hereford Mappa Mundi by MSt student Caitriona Dowden, who is writing her dissertation on the topic.

Books under discussion were all recently-published and acclaimed titles, including Marie Favereau’s The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World, Olivette Otele’s African Europeans: An Untold History, and The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by the anthropologist David Graeber and archaeologist David Wengrow, a book which is quite as ambitious as it sounds!

On the journey back to Oxford, the group stopped off at Gloucester Cathedral to inspect the tomb of Oriel's founder, Edward II. The plaque to the right of the group explains, in Latin, that the Provost and Fellows of Oriel paid for the restoration of the monument three times in the eighteenth century. They report that it seems to be in good condition at the moment!