Before Written Records
In this Section
The extensive periods for which no written records exist remain Hook Norton’s Dark Ages, and we must rely on other sources of knowledge.
A geological record exists that explains the physical context in which human life has developed here. The parish has had a soil that is fertile but lacks some important minerals and an ironstone rock that provided not only a building material but also, for sixty years, the basis for heavy industry. The geology also reveals that animal life existed here long before humans, most dramatically the dinosaur that left its remains in the parish about 175 million years ago.
The archaeological record shows that human beings lived in this locality in the Bronze and Iron Ages, leaving evidence of the burial mounds, the roads, forts and settlements they built in the two thousand years before Christ. Little has been found of British civilisation before the Roman conquest of 43 A.D., but some exciting discoveries show that there were Roman villas and other settlements in the area, probably well into the fifth century.
Sometime after the Anglo-Saxon invasion began about 450 A.D., such existing settlements as may have been here grew into a defined village and human behaviour begins to become visible to us. The first brief written record tells of war and death in 913 A.D. and our parish church had its origins sometime thereafter, but sadly that world still appears “dark” to us, even though we appreciate that the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings developed considerable civilisations of their own. Only with the last wave of invaders – the Normans – does a fuller record begin to make possible the writing of the fuller histories of Hook Norton that may be found in the next section, entitled The Middle Ages.
© Donald Ratcliffe