"they had some crude conceptions that nothing was taught at Oxford but the black arts"

Oxford, a city in the south-east of England, is synonymous with the centuries of academia and learning its university has fostered. It has never had any associations with witchcraft, much less offered it in its syllabus. Indeed, in the 14th century when superstition ran high and some European universities became an arena for the ‘art of magic’, Oxford publically disavowed all faith in such practices. However, though this is clearly the Oxford Robert has in mind, it isn’t the only one in Britain. It is possible that the landlord is thinking of a small hamlet in Northumberland that lies on the Devil’s Causeway, a 55-mile Roman road whose construction is attributed to infernal forces. Since it is only 30 rather than 300 miles away from Ancrum, it would perhaps be better known to the landlord than its more august namesake.

Map showing the locations of the two Oxfords
Public DomainMap showing the locations of the two Oxfords - Credit: Google maps