Cricklade – Saxons – Romans – Rotten Borough by Diana Holmes




Close to the Cotswolds but not of them, the small town of Cricklade has a history at least as interesting as its better known neighbours.

The River Thames, which rises only a few miles upstream, was for centuries a decisive influence on the town’s development. Driving the straight course of Ermin Street towards Gloucester, the Romans found Cricklade to be a convenient place to cross the floodplain, and the Saxon defenders of Alfred the Great’s Wessex made it a part of their chain of fortified towns against the invading Danes.

In later years Cricklade became a “rotten borough”, and the antics of parliamentary candidates, actively encouraged by a highly bribable populace, little less than a national scandal. Bypassed today by through traffic, Cricklade offers modern visitors peace and tranquillity and, in late May, the chance to see the famed crop of fritillaries which crowd the ancient North Meadow.

A twelfth–century document describes Cricklade as being “in a delighful place” – This is just as true today.