Punting near Magdalen Bridge, Oxford

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This scene by Richard Briggs is rich in all things Oxford. You can see punts and punters with Magdalen Bridge ahead – one of the routes into the centre of Oxford. Over the riverbank to the left is a glasshouse for the University Botanical Gardens, and then appearing above the trees behind that is the tower of Magdalen College.

A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or shallow water. The punter moves the punt by pushing against the river bed with a long pole. Punting is now exclusively a leisure activity although punts were originally used as cargo boats or as platforms for fishing.

The site of Magdalen Bridge is the point used for crossing the River Cherwell since ancient times. The first known reference to a bridge here is from 1004. Early every May Morning (1st May) Magdalen Bridge is the scene of large crowds for the traditional Oxford May Morning celebrations. Part of the celebrations see the Magdalen College School choir sing from the top of the Magdalen College tower.

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