The St. Frideswide.
Tradition links the beginnings of Oxford with St. Frideswide.
Part of whose legend, first depicts her as a pious Mercian
princess who became a nun in an Oxford monastery founded
at her behest. She was pestered be a lecherous royal suitor
who was struck blind when he tried to enter Oxford to seize
her, but he recovered at Frideswide ’s intercession and she
continued in the monastery until her death. Scholars now
think that Frideswide was a real person associated with
Oxford and nearby Binsey and that a religious house, perhaps
for a mixed community of monks and nuns, with Frideswide as
first abbess was indeed founded about AD 700 on the site of
Christ Church. It was burned down in AD1002, rebuilt, and
in AD 1122 refounded as the Augustinian priory of St.
Frideswide. A cemetery, probably attached to the first St.
Frideswide’s has been excavated in Christ Church.
Significantly, the site chosen for the early minster was beside
the north-south Thames crossing on the line of the later St.
Aldates and Abingdon Road, a route important enough by the
late eight century to require considerable engineering work.
Here indeed may be the ‘oxen ford ’ from which the town is
named, altough some later evidence points to the ford at
North Hinksey. It now seems likely that the earliest settlement
called Oxford comprised a small lay community at the gates
of St Frideswide ’s, flanking the more important route fiom
Mercia to Wessex, but firm archaeological confirmation is