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The May Ox

For many years the effigy of an ox was trundled on May Morning over Aristotle Bridge in North Oxford.  This was the creation of sculptor Michael Black who carved the Emperors' Heads on Broad Street. A maiden was selected to ride the beast, and comical representations of the Emperors' Heads were carried on poles. There was also a beery breakfast known as Black's Treat. Eynsham Morris presided over the revels which continued until 2019 when the sculptor died. A last May Morning event was held that year in Black's honour, and there are no current plans for a further appearance.

Video Tim Healey (2019)


Death on May Morning

Long before Inspector Morse investigated mayhem among the dreaming spires author Max Dalman wrote an Oxford-based thriller called Death on May Morning. Published in 1938 the book describes how a student atop Magdalen Tower is shot dead by a sniper during the traditional singing by the choir. The hero, reporter Philip Hardman, goes sleuthing about the city chasing up clues in New College, Parson’s Pleasure, The Trout and elsewhere.

First issued by Ward, Lock & Co (see left), the book was re-published in 2022 by The Oleander Press (right).

It’s not a bad read, incidentally.


For the two years 2020-21 traditional May Morning celebrations were suspended due to Covid restrictions. Ingenious alternatives were improvised with social distancing and online initiatives...

Clockwork Morris

Formed specially for displays on Oxford's May Morning, Clockwork Morris danced only twice, in 2010 and 2012. Marc West (second left) reports 'There's rumours of a possible reunion - hah!'