Towcester

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Old Town Hall

Towcester, the Roman town of Lactodorum, is an affluent market town in south Northamptonshire, England.

The town is about 9 miles (14.5 km) southwest of Northampton and about 11 miles (17.7 km) northwest of Milton Keynes, the nearest main towns.

The name comes from the Latin for "Camp on the (river) Tove".

Towcester is famous for its racecourse. Many important national horse racing events are held there. Greyhound racing is also held at the same venue. In 2010 the World Hovercraft Championship was held on the racecourse.

Nearby is the Silverstone motor racing circuit, currently home to the British Grand Prix. In fiction the "Saracen's Head Inn" in Towcester features in Charles Dickens's novel The Pickwick Papers as one of Mr Pickwick's stopping places along what is now the A5 trunk road.

History[change | change source]

Prehistoric and Roman periods[change | change source]

Towcester may be the oldest town in Northamptonshire. There are Iron Age finds in the town, so it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the country. There is evidence that it was settled by humans since the Mesolithic era (middle stone age). There is also evidence of Iron Age burials in the area.

In Roman Britain, Watling Street, now the A5 road, was built through the area. A garrison town called Lactodurum was built. Two candidate sites for the Battle of Watling Street, fought in 61 AD, are close to the town.[1]

Saxon period and Medieval age[change | change source]

When the Romans left in the 5th century, the area was settled by Saxons. In the 9th century, Watling Street became the frontier between the kingdom of Wessex and the Danelaw, so Towcester became a frontier town. Edward the Elder fortified Towcester in 917. In the 11th century, the Normans built a motte and bailey castle on the site. Bury Mount are the remains of the fortification and is a scheduled ancient monument. It was renovated in 2008 with an access ramp added and explanatory plaques added.

References[change | change source]

  1. Rogers, Byron (2003-10-11). "UK: The original Iron Lady rides again". The Daily Telegraph. London.