VISITORS to the ruins of an abbey near Wolvercote, can finally learn about its colourful history thanks to a new information board.

Godstow Abbey, which has links to Kings Henry I and II, is a scheduled ancient monument, but there has never been any detailed information to inform the public of its history.

Now, thanks to Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum, landowner Oxford University and the Ashmolean Museum, passers-by can stop and read about its colourful past.

Neighbourhood forum member Graham Jones said: "Up until now it has been an almost-anonymous building, but it is a national monument and has several historical and royal links.

"Now we've got this display board in place, people walking along the towpath, wondering what it is, can find out all about it.

"The neighbourhood forum saw an opportunity to do more with our heritage, and it has been brilliant to work with the university and Ashmolean to pull the information together.

"By getting this display board up, we can finally put the abbey on the map and bring it to life.

"They are more than just ruins and we hope the work can progress to some archaeological digs, so we can learn even more about its history."

Godstow Abbey was founded by Ediva of Winchester in 1115, receiving financial support from Kings Henry I and II.

In 1176 the mistress of Henry II, Rosamund de Clifford, famed for her beauty, was buried within the grounds.

The site has changed hands several times since then, including to Henry VIII’s physician, George Owen, and successive Earls of Abingdon.

It is now owned by Oxford University, after it was bequeathed by the ffennell family in 1924, and the ruins were made a site of national historical significance in 1949.

Since the display board was installed in May, staff from the university's school of archaeology have carried out further research to discover more about the history of the site.

They are currently seeking donations to pay for future information events and to provide another display panel.

This would give up-to-date information about conservation work and new discoveries.

Mr Jones added: "As part of the project, the grounds around the site of the ruins have been tidied up but without spoiling the natural aura of mystery that embraces the abbey.

"There is considerable local interest and local people have contributed generously.

"It is wonderful to see just how many people have visited the display board and taken a renewed interest in the abbey and its grounds."