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The History of Ashwell

Medieval times to Present Day
Anglo-Saxon to Medieval times
Prehistoric to Roman Times

Anglo-Saxon to Medieval Times 

Little is known about the history of the area between the Roman period and the later Anglo-Saxon period.  That people lived here is evident from graves that have been excavated and from place names.

The creation of present-day Ashwell was probably in the early tenth century.  By 1086, when Domesday Book was compiled, it was the most important settlement, being a borough, a market town, in the area.  The market place would have dominated the town and brought the wealth that is reflected in the number of quality medieval buildings, including St Mary’s Church, that still exist today.   

It would seem that the status of Ashwell did not last for long.  Documents suggest that the sort of people one would expect in a thriving market town did not live here by the end of the thirteenth century.

By that time many other market towns had come into existence in the area, and would have taken trade from Ashwell, which was not ideally placed, not being on any main roads.  This does not mean that Ashwell had become a backwater.

The building of the greater part of St Mary’s Church during the fourteenth century points to the wealth of those who could afford to pay for it.  It was during this building that the Black Death devastated England and left scratched on a wall of the tower the cry of those who survived this tragedy.

Black Death Graffiti in St. Mary's Church, Ashwell