Burgess Field was the City Council open landfill site until the early 1980s, which explains why it stands noticeably higher than the neighbouring Trap Grounds allotments and Port Meadow itself. When it was closed, a clay cap was put in place and the area was roughly landscaped and partially planted with trees and hedges in the 1990s by volunteers led by Anthony Roberts, Head of Parks Services at Oxford City Council. The trees were carefully chosen to encourage wildlife, have since flourished, and now form the tall hedges that in 2019 we have started to lay to provide better cover for nesting birds. Many thanks to Adrian Arbib for permission to use his photos.
Burgess Field was then largely left to grow and mature undisturbed, although the main paths have been kept mown and the hedges occasionally trimmed. It is now a delightful, open green space, and a magnet for walkers, with or without their dogs, joggers and nature lovers.
The Friends of Burgess Field group was formed in January 2018 to try, in conjunction with the City Council, to care rather better for this precious green space. The many ash trees are at risk of disappearing all too soon, so the City Council is undertaking extensive planting of a range of native trees along the eastern border. The hedges have mostly bottomed out and are too thin to provide adequate cover for the many birds found there, and scrub is spreading rapidly on the open grasslands. Works are being planned to tackle these issues to enhance the environment.