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Brief History of a Market Town – Early Settlement

The Market Place facing east.

People have lived in the Grantham area for thousands of years. Archaeological material suggests that people were living here after the end if the last Ice Age, known as the Mesolithic period (c.10,000-4,000BC) and remained here until the Neolithic period (c. 4000-2200 BC)

However, the earliest evidence of settlement within the area now occupied by the town dates to the Bronze Age (c.2300-700BC)  In the Iron Age (c.700BC – 43 AD) a major trackway used by the local tribe, the Coritani, passed through Saltersford. It is believed that by the 1st century AD there was a settlement there.

In 43 AD the Roman army invaded Britain. They built roads and forts so towns and settlements developed around them. The famous Roman road, Ermine street, connecting London with York via Lincoln, ran past Grantham and is now know as the High Dyke. There was no Roman settlement in the town of Grantham.

As the Roman occupation of Britain was ending in the 5th century AD, the Anglo Saxons arrived and settled in eastern areas of Britain. It is from the Anglo Saxons that we get the word Grantham meaning ‘ a village on a gravel bank’. The word ‘Ham’ being the Saxon for ‘Village’ The Anglo Saxons were the first people to make a defined, permanent settlement within the area of Grantham town. They initially built small settlements between Spitalgate and Manthorpe between 400 and 600AD

Castlegate, Grantham c.1860/70s

During Saxon times the town and the surrounding area were part of the land belonging to the King’s wife, and the Queen had a Royal Hall in the town.

 St Wulfram’s Church was also founded during this period, as a small timber or stone building on the site of the present church.

The Castlegate area eventually became the main centre of the Saxon settlement, which focussed around the church and the market place. The market was originally held in front of the church and became an important local trading centre.

During the 9th century the Vikings settled in Grantham and developed the town into a regional centre. They left there mark on the street names in the town which contain the Danish word for street, ‘Gata’: Castlegate, Westgate.