- History of Warwickshire
This is about the history of
The Warwickshire area has almost certainly been inhabited since Prehistoric times. Remains of barrows and stone tools and axes have been found, mostly along the Avon valley. Also the remains of around twelve
Iron Age hill forts have been found in the Warwickshire area.
For the first few decades following the
Roman invasion of Britainin AD 43, the Warwickshire area found itself at the frontier of Roman rule. The Watling Streetand Fosse WayRoman roads were constructed, and for several decades the Fosse Way marked the western frontier of Roman rule in Britain. The Warwickshire area was heavily fortified during this period and several military settlements were founded to defend the roads. Later on the Ryknild Streetwas constructed through the Warwickshire area, which passed through what is now Birmingham.
In time some of these military settlements grew into civilian towns. The largest Roman settlement in Warwickshire was "Aluana" (modern day
Alcester). Other significant Roman settlements included Tripontium(near Rugby) and Manduessedum. (modern day Mancetternear Atherstone).
Aluana was an important walled town, which stood at a junction of the
Ryknild Streetand an east-west road.
There was also a large fort in what is now
Edgbastonin Birmingham, and a fort near Coventry(the Lunt Fort).
There is evidence of extensive industry in the Warwickshire area during the Roman period. The area around Manduessedum in northern Warwickshire, is known to have had an extensive
potteryindustry, which extended to near what is now Nuneaton, the remains of up to thirty pottery kilns have been found in this area.
Some historians believe that the
Battle of Watling Street, the last battle of Boudica, took place in the Warwickshire area. The historian Graham Websterclaimed it took place near Manduessedum. Another possible site put forward by Jack Lucasis the area east of Rugby. There is, however, no proof for either of these theories.
After the Romans left Britain in the 4th century, the Warwickshire area was settled by Anglo Saxon tribes. By the 8th and 9th century, the Warwickshire area had become a part of the kingdom of
In the late 9th century the Mercian kingdom declined and in
874large parts of Mercia to the east of Warwickshire were ceded to Danish (Viking) invaders by King Alfred's Treaty of Wedmorewith the Danish leader Guthrum. Watling Street, on the north-eastern edge of Warwickshire, became the boundary between the Danelaw(the kingdom of the Danes) to the east and the much reduced Mercia to the west. There was also a boundary with the kingdom of Wessexto the south.
Owing to its location at the frontier between two kingdoms, what is now Warwickshire needed to establish defences against the threat of Danish invasion. This task was undertaken by
Ethelfleda, "Lady of the Mercians" and daughter of King Alfred, who was responsible for the building of the first parts of Warwick Castle. Defences against the Danes were also built at Tamworth("see" Tamworth Castle).
Periodic fighting between Danes and Saxons occurred until the 11th century. Because of its castle,
Warwickgrew into a prosperous market town and a powerful centre within the Mercian kingdom. In the early 11th century, new internal boundaries within the Mercian kingdom were drawn and Warwickshire came into being as the lands administered from Warwick. The county was initially divided into ten hundreds.
The first recorded use of the name Warwickshire was in the year 1001, named after Warwick (meaning "dwellings by the
Normanswere responsible for building much of Warwick Castleand Kenilworth Castlefollowing their invasion in 1066.
Many of the main settlements of Warwickshire were established in the
Middle Agesas market towns, including Birmingham, Bedworth, Nuneaton, Rugby and Stratford-upon-Avonamongst others.
The county was dominated throughout the medieval period by
Coventrywhich became an important centre of wooland textilestrades. Coventry became one of the most important cities in England.
In 1451 Coventry became a
county corporatein its own right: the County of the City of Coventry.
English Civil Warin the 17th century the Battle of Edgehill(1642) was fought in Warwickshire, near the Oxfordshireborder.
During the 18th and 19th centuries Warwickshire became one of Britain's foremost industrial counties. The coalfields of northern Warwickshire were amongst the most productive in the country, and greatly enhanced the industrial growth of
Warwickshire became a centre of the national canal system, with major arterial routes such as the
Oxford Canalthe Coventry Canaland later, what is now the Grand Union Canalbeing constructed through the county.
One of the first intercity
railwaylines: the London and Birmingham Railwayran through Warwickshire. And during the 19th century, the county developed a dense railway network.
Nuneaton, Bedworth, and Rugby also became industrialised. The siting of a major railwayjunction in the town was the key factor in the industrial growth of Rugby.
Towards the end of the 19th century Birmingham and Coventry had become large industrial cities in their own right, and so administrative boundaries had to change. In 1889 the
administrative countyof Warwickshire was created, and both Coventry and Birmingham became county boroughs which made them administratively separate from the rest of Warwickshire. Solihulllater followed as a county borough. These borougs remained part of the ceremonial county of Warwickshire, which expanded into Worcestershireand Staffordshireas Birmingham annexed surrounding villages.
This situation lasted until 1974, when the two cities were removed from Warwickshire altogether, and along with parts of
Staffordshireand Worcestershirebecame a part of the new West Midlands metropolitan county.
The remaining post-1974 county of Warwickshire was left with a rather odd shape, which looks as if a large chunk has been bitten out of it where Coventry and Birmingham used to be.
*"A History of Warwickshire", by Canon Doctor
Terry Slater(1981) ISBN 0-85033-416-0
*"An Historical Atlas of Warwickshire" by Canon Doctor Terry Slater (2004) ISBN 1-86077-350-8
History of Birmingham
History of Coventry
History of England
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/catalogue.asp?type=&gid=34 Victoria County History of Warwickshire] , (part of British History Online)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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