Situated on a ridge, Swalcliffe is a mixture of dwellings of different styles and ages, some of them being in the local dark honey-coloured ironstone and with thatched roofs. It spreads along the main Banbury to Shipston-on-Stour road and is an attractive little village.
The village's name is said to come from the Old English, swealwe and clif, meaning a slope or cliff frequented by swallows.
In the centre of the village is a small triangular green, opposite the parish church. The church is the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul which was originally Anglo -Saxon but was rebuilt in the 12th and 14th centuries. The bell tower was built in the 13th century and made higher in the 15th century. Inside the church is the remnant of a 14th century wall painting.
Near the church is Swalcliffe Barn which has an almost completely intact medieval timber half-cruck roof and is considered the finest medieval tithe barn in Oxfordshire and one of the best examples in England, with much of its medieval timber roof intact. The barn houses part of the Oxfordshire Museum's collection of traditional agricultural and trade vehicles.
Behind the barn (or is it in front?) is a pleasant courtyard surrounded by old cottages.
North of the village are the site of an Iron Age hill fort and the site of a Roman villa which is near course of a former Roman Road. It has been suggested that there was a Roman or Romano-British village here.
Swalcliffe is about 5 miles west of Banbury on the B4035.