Nottingham in spotlight
The origins of Nottingham was the subject of the latest Sutton Bonington Local
History Society talk and it was presented by Dr David Knight.
It is archaeology that has largely served to inform us as to where and when Nottingham came into existence and at its best it only hints at the nature of the earliest settlement.
From excavations in Nottingham, and the wider area, there is some evidence of human occupation almost from the point when the ice finally retreated around 10,000 BCE.
The clearest indication of the existence of Nottingham as a settlement comes from the post Roman era. There is some evidence of Roman artefacts but none of the grand buildings that characterised the Roman period in other cities such as Bath.
The Angles and Danes built, but in wood, and this decayed leaving only shadows in the soil.
Such excavations as have taken place indentify the earliest settlement as in the area we now know as the Lace Market. This is a hill with a steep easily defended cliff to the south and the Angles dug a deep ditch on the north, east and western boundaries.
Excavations have indentified both the presence of the ditch and the outlines of several buildings. Interestingly the outline/ boundary of this earliest settlement is still identifiable in the present road layout as parallel roads, inside and outside the ditch, were later established and these can be seen on modern maps.
Much of the remains of the early settlement were removed in medieval times, the ground surface being severely disturbed or entirely removed as more substantial development took place
Nottingham is well known for its caves. These are all man-made and the early settlers exploited the easily excavated sandstone rock to form caves and an early name for Nottingham was ‘ Tigguo Cobauc’ which meant ‘the place of cave dwellers’ in the Celtic language of the time.
The Saxon Chieftain Snot probably endowed the early Saxon settlement with the name Snotingaham and the Anglo Saxon Chronicles are the first written reference to this name.
From the Domesday Book we know that there were probably 191 dwellings prior to the Norman invasion. We also know from written references that the Danish army camped at Nottingham in 868 having sailed up the River Trent. By and large written references to the origins of Nottingham are sparse.
This was a talk based on the archaeology that has taken place over the last 50 years or more and if anything served to illustrate just how much we don’t know about the past and how important it is to thoroughly investigate town centres site before redevelopment takes place.
The next talk is on Wednesday, February 13, at 7.30pm at the Methodist School Rooms, Main Street, Sutton Bonington.
The subject will be Nottinghamshire in Jane Austen’s Day.
Chris Weir will reveal how Nottinghamshire at that time was a county of contrasts, a rapidly changing society with one foot in the past and the other in the future.