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Stephen Mileson

Dr Stephen Mileson


Assistant Editor, VCH Oxfordshire

History Lecturer, St Edmund Hall


Stephen Mileson completed his doctorate on medieval parks at Keble College, under the supervision of Dr John Watts. After a period working for Cambridge University as a Research Assistant on the Inquisitions Post Mortem editing project, he joined the Oxfordshire Victoria County History in 2005. From 2007 he collaborated with the South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group and Reading University to investigate the site of an abandoned medieval church in Bix, near Henley. In 2011 he began an interdisciplinary historical and archaeological research project on 14 parishes in south Oxfordshire, focusing on inhabitants’ perceptions of landscape, settlement and society over the long period c.500-1650: Dr Mileson is lecturer in medieval history at St Edmund Hall and editor of the journal Oxoniensia: He is currently serving as a committee member for the Medieval Settlement Research Group.

Research Interests

Dr Mileson’s main research interests are in medieval social and landscape history, and in local and regional history more generally. He is particularly concerned to understand the role of culture and values in shaping the exploitation of resources and organization of society. This was a key theme of his book Parks in Medieval England (Oxford, 2009), the first full-length study of medieval deer parks, which were widespread and, in fact, controversial landscape features. The book examines the purpose of parks and their function in aristocratic recreation, display and estate management, but also assesses the effects of these large private enclosures on local populations. He is now organising a joint History Faculty-VCH landscape history research programme called ‘The South Oxfordshire Project’, which brings together professionals and local volunteers in building analysis, excavation and fieldwalking. It is hoped that the initial pilot project will lead on to a major three-year research project comparing and contrasting medieval inhabitants’ perceptions of their environment and sense of identity in the clay vale, characterized by villages and open fields, and the Chilterns, with its dispersed settlements, early enclosure and wood-pasture landscape.


Dr Mileson provides teaching in British and European history from the 10th to the 16th century. He is interested in exploring changes in the nature, expression and justification of power across the middle ages, for example by studying forms of communication and their participants, the organization and exploitation of resources, and the definition and pattern of heresy. Related to this interest in power is his emphasis on understanding the effects of economic, educational and governmental growth on social relations in the 12th to 14th centuries, a period when an increasingly complex and stratified social hierarchy was emerging. He encourages students to investigate the cause and extent of economic development in the middle ages, as well as its social impact, especially by looking at variations between regions and periods to understand the influence of factors such as social structures and institutions, population, innovation, and natural resources. He is also interested in the interaction between different ethnic groups in Britain after the Norman Conquest and in Iberia during the reconquista. His tutorial teaching combines the use of narrative and documentary sources with the evidence provided by archaeology, material culture and the landscape, and he is keen that students should be aware of different methodological approaches to historical problems, including the social scientific and anthropological.


Monographs and scholarly editions:



  • The Importance of Parks in Fifteenth-Century Society’, in L. Clark (ed.), The Fifteenth Century, V (Woodbridge, 2005), pp. 19–37
  • ‘The Sociology of Park Creation in Medieval England’, in R. Liddiard (ed.), The Medieval Park. New Perspectives (Macclesfield, 2007), pp. 11–26
  • ‘Bix’, in S. Townley (ed.), VCH Oxfordshire, XVI: Henley and Environs  (London, 2011), pp. 196–230
  • ‘Harpsden’, in ibid., pp. 231–65
  • ‘Henley: Rural Settlement and Agriculture’, in ibid., pp. 189–95
  • ‘Introduction’, in ibid., pp. 1–18 [An analytical overview of the history of the Henley-on-Thames area.]
  • ‘Warborough’, in S. Townley (ed.), VCH Oxfordshire XVIII, forthcoming
  • ‘The “Lost” Church of Bix Gibwyn’, Oxoniensia, 76 (2011), pp. 15–37
  • ‘The Rural Hinterland’, in N. Christie et al. (eds.), Wallingford: Burh to Borough (forthcoming)
  • ‘The South Oxfordshire Project: Perceptions of Landscape, Settlement and Society, c.500-1650’ (forthcoming)


Book reviews and notes:

  • Oliver Rackham, Woodlands, review in Agricultural History Review, 55, Part II (2007), pp. 313–14
  • ‘The Social Impact of Park-Making’, Landscape Archaeology and Ecology, 6 (2007), p.  83
  • ‘A ‘Lost’ Church Found: Documents, Landscape History and Archaeology’, Local History News, 90 (2009), p. 11 
  • Elizabeth Noble, The World of the Stonors, review in Oxoniensia, 74 (2009), pp. 204–6
  • Anne Rowe, Medieval Parks of Hertfordshire, and Mary Wiltshire and Sue Woore, Medieval Parks of Derbyshire, review in Journal of Historical Geography, vol. 36, issue 2 (2010), pp. 226–8
  • Alexander Kaufman, The Historical Literature of the Jack Cade Rebellion, review in Journal of British Studies, vol. 49, no. 3 (2010), pp. 698–9
  • B. Dodds and R. Britnell (eds.), Agriculture and Rural Society after the Black Death, review in Medieval Archaeology, vol. 55 (2011), p. 417
  • ‘The South Oxfordshire Project’, Medieval Settlement Research, 25 (2011 for 2010), p. 69
  • ‘The South Oxfordshire Project’, South Midlands Archaeology, 41 (2011), p. 61
  • N.J. Higham and M.J. Ryan, Place-Names, Language and the Anglo-Saxon Landscape, review in Medieval Archaeology, forthcoming
  • J. Hare, A Prospering Society. Wiltshire in the Later Middle Ages, review in Antiquaries Journal, forthcoming
  • S. Turner and B. Silvester (eds.), Life in Medieval Landscapes. People and Places in the Middle Ages. Papers in Memory of H.S.A. Fox, review in Medieval Settlement Research, forthcoming



  • ‘Deserted and Shrunken Settlements’ in K. Tiller (ed.), An Historical Atlas of Oxfordshire (Oxfordshire Record Society, 2010), pp. 56–7
  • ‘Forests and Parks’ in ibid., pp. 48–9

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Last updated: 9 February, 2012