Wantage before the 7th Century

Wantage is a small town tucked away in the beautiful English countryside of Oxfordshire. It has a rich history, dating back centuries before the 7th century.

The earliest evidence of settlement in Wantage dates back to Neolithic times and there have been various forms of habitation since then. The Romans had a presence here from the 1st century AD, but it wasn’t until the 7th century that Wantage began to emerge as an important settlement within Oxfordshire.

It was during this era that Saint Alfred the Great, who was King of Wessex from 871 to 899, was born in Wantage. He is known as an important figure in Anglo-Saxon history and his legacy lives on today through local landmarks such as St. Alfred’s Church and Saint Alfred’s Way, which connects the town with nearby villages and towns.

In 673 AD, King Cenwalh of Wessex gifted land around Wantage to Abbot Berhtwald for use as a monastery – what would become St Mary’s Abbey – which saw growth and expansion over subsequent centuries. This period also saw important trade routes developed through Wantage, helping link it with other settlements across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire.

The area also experienced significant population growth during this period too; records from 1086 state that there were 48 households living in Wantage at this time – an increase from just 12 households recorded by Domesday Book some years earlier (1066).

As the centuries passed by more buildings were constructed in Wantage; for example the Market Place was built during the 17th Century and remains one of the oldest marketplaces still standing today within England. The same period also saw two bridges added over River Ock connecting Wantage to associated villages – both still remain operational today although some refurbishment may be needed!

All in all, it’s clear that long before its 7th-century heyday, there was plenty going on in Wantage – making it a truly fascinating part of English history worth exploring further.

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