Mileson, S., Nicholls, D. and Williams, Anna (2011) The ‘Lost’ Church of Bix Gibwyn: The Human Bone. Oxoniensia, 76. pp. 15-36. ISSN 0308–5562

Recent research for the Victoria County History (VCH) highlighted the presence of a ‘lost’ medieval
church in Bix, a Chilterns parish north-west of Henley-on-Thames. The building, formerly the
parish church of Bix Gibwyn, was abandoned in the late sixteenth or seventeenth century and has
left no standing remains. Archaeological investigation by the South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group
(SOAG) and Reading University has confirmed its location in a close called ‘Old Chapel’ in Bix
Bottom, in the north of the parish. The rediscovery of the site – which contains the foundations of a
hitherto unknown Romano-British stone building – sheds new light on long-term changes in local
communications, settlement, and economic conditions.
In the Middle Ages Bix Gibwyn church was a focus of religious and social life for a small
rural community in the south Oxfordshire Chilterns. After the Reformation it was neglected,
demolished, and finally all but forgotten. Its location has been a matter of speculation for over a
hundred years,1 but in 2007–10 its churchyard was identified through a combination of historical
research and archaeological fieldwork. Confirmation of the church’s location in the remote Bix
Bottom valley provides important evidence about the medieval settlement pattern in Bix, which
was very different from the modern one, and offers an opportunity to reassess the development
of settlement in the southern Chilterns more generally. The archaeological findings also supply
new evidence about Roman activity in the area.

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