Surviving the zombie oxocalypse

PHOTO// The Original Couttzilla

They come to feast on brains. Which means that any zombie onslaught is almost certainly going to target the boffins and geniuses we have cooped up in our colleges. It has never been more dangerous to go to Oxford.

Are we ready? The University practises its fire drills with unflinching regularity, but will offer no advice about what to do when the undead have a crack at the living. This, frankly, is terrifying. The city is littered with graveyards; there’s one just outside Tesco on Magdalen Street, and another actually in Teddy Hall.
We can’t go on living in danger. Fail to prepare, and you prepare to have your guts chomped on by a re-animated corpse. Thankfully, the OxStu is here to help. We can’t go to the Winchester, but we do have a handy rundown of the top five places to flee to when the dead come calling.

Whether the satanic enemies in question are the traditional slow, lumbering beasts, or the terrifying, sprinting zombies of 28 Days Later, gather your strongest friends, arm yourselves, and head to one of these places…

5. Queen’s Front Quad

PHOTO// simononly

This quadrangle is both one of the gems of Oxford’s classical architecture, and an ideal hub for student resistance against the undead.

Its High Street facade provides a nigh-impregnable barricade; well-fortified, with a range of positions to mount guns and mow down zombies channelled through the street below. (It is a universally-accepted fact that normal people automatically accumulate weaponry in zombie-attack scenarios.) There is only one entrance from this side; a solid wooden door which could be easily reinforced.

The quad would be most vulnerable from the back, where the chapel corridor would have to be barricaded, and it is possible that the undead might gain access to other Queen’s buildings, and thereby flank the humans in the Front Quad.

It is therefore fortunate that a flag, searchlight, or other device could be attached to the tower to attract the attention of would-be rescuers. A helicopter could then land on the grass to ferry people to safety.

Should the zombies break through any of the defences, the situation in Queen’s would not necessarily be lost. With covering fire pouring in from the windows, a last line of defence could be made between the arches, whose protection would permit a small number of students to resist a far larger undead force.

Field of Fire: 3/5
Invulnerability: 1/5
Escape Routes: 3/5

4. The Rad Cam

PHOTO// Bex.Walton

Oxford’s most famous landmark is surprisingly zombie-proof. The top balcony has a clear 360-degree field of fire across Radcliffe Square. Any zombies approaching would be totally in the open, exposed to whatever weaponry the human resistance could muster. The oval of railings would provide a preliminary line of defence; the living could massacre the dead with chainsaws and axes as they tried to climb over. Machine-guns would then cover a retreat back to the Camera proper, whose doors could then be secured.

The danger is that zombies would be able to sneak in through the undergound passage joining the Rad Cam to the Old Bodleian. It would be almost impossible to fight off wraiths in the Gladstone Link, forcing the surviving students to retreat to the Upper Camera. The spiral stairs might be broken off, but then you would be trapped, and it would only be a matter of time before starvation set in.

Field of Fire: 4/5
Invulnerability: 3/5
Escape Routes: 1/5

3. Lincoln Library

PHOTO// pandrcutts

Lincoln’s stunning college library doubles as both an excellent place of study, and a compact survival den in the case of a zombie invasion.

Initially built as a church, its historic spire is perfect for raining fire onto Turl Street, the High Street, and Radcliffe Square. Mortars on the roof could perform a similar role, whilst its extensive windows provide all-round coverage.

The bells could be used to call for help, which would be important, as the graves in the vicinity mean that zombies would be knocking at the door very swiftly. Fortunately, there are only two doors; one is permanently closed, the other is vast, wooden, and electronically-locked.

The danger is that undead attackers might smash some of the, admittedly reinforced, ground-level windows. This would let them flood the basement, forcing students up into the tower. Lincoln Library has the potential to be a death-trap if it is stormed; anyone fleeing into the confined space of Turl Street would quickly be torn apart. On the roof, however, extraction via helicopter would be possible, and survivors might be able to fashion a zipwire to escape via Brasenose.

Field of Fire: 3/5
Invulnerability: 4/5
Escape Routes: 2/5

2. Oxford Castle

PHOTO// doug.neiner

This hulking medieval fortress might have been designed by the Normans specifically to shrug off shamboling, brain-eating, ressurected humans. Its venerable stones will shrug off even the most furious clawing, whilst crenellations and arrow-slits mean that any humans can shoot their mortal foes with impunity.

Of course, gathering a suitable garrison to hold the fortress will be a challenge. Modern developments have robbed it of much of its historic integrity. But the keep  in particular can still be manned and held. Moreover, the close proximity of the Malmaison Hotel means that food will be close at hand. There are also plenty of escape routes, and aerial escape from its mound would always be an option.

Field of Fire: 3/5
Invulnerability: 4/5
Escape Routes: 3/5

1. Oriel Chapel

PHOTO// up to 2011

Oriel’s chapel might be best known as the home of theologian John Henry Newman, but, in addition to being the heart of the Oxford Movement, it could also be the heart of the Oxford Zombie Resistance.

When you first see corpses walking the streets, when the first screams shatter the night, come here. If you want to see your families again (providing they haven’t been turned into chili con carne  by ravenous ghouls), head to Oriel, bring guns, and knuckle down.

A machine gun deployed beneath the portico can sweep the entire front quad, supported by additional weaponry on the roof and through the windows. A flamethrower in the Newman Chapel would complete the impenetrable field of fire.
Critically, the chapel has only one entrance, meaning it would be perfect for a heroic last stand against the mindless swarm. But the casualties the zombies would have to endure to get to such a point would be too much, even for them. Every raid repelled would give the defenders time to rush to the adjacent hall for food. If you want to survive World War Z, there  is nowhere better.

Field of Fire: 4/5
Invulnerability: 5/5
Escape Routes: 2/5


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