The setting of Adam of the Road is important in terms of both time and place. Adam is placed at a boarding school but he also travels around quite a bit. The author evokes many features of the specific places, such as Winchester and Oxford, that have played important roles in English history. The cathedral at Winchester exemplifies the transformation in church architecture from the Norman to Gothic. Visitors today would see the structure as rebuilt in the mid-14th century. The University of Oxford remains England's most prestigious institution of higher learning. Today it has female students as well.
By setting the story at the very end of the 13th century, Gray highlights some important events as well as evoking daily life of that time. For example, Adam's father is a minstrel, a job that no longer exists. Today he might be a touring rock star. To reach France, he could take the train through the Chunnel.