Over the next three weeks I will be delving into the fascinating local history book ‘The Making of Basingstoke’ by Eric Stokes, produced by the Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society.

This week I am looking at the presence of early settlements in the area and discoveries made primarily by George Willis the founder of the Willis Museum.

At the time of the construction of Penrith Road in 1912 a ‘cooking site’ was discovered with a diameter of 12 meters and a depth of 15 cms. Believed to be from the Stone Age era, it was discovered under a metre of soil.

In Buckskin there was evidence of habitation from the Neolithic to Iron Age period. A barrow, discovered in 1967 would have been, in it’s day, visible at some distance. Flint items were found here along with evidence of a ‘totem pole’ installation.

Oakridge is also of interest, the area is believed to have been occupied during the Iron Age and Roman era. Here a well was discovered at a depth of over 26 metres in the chalk soil. At the bottom of the shaft remains were found of a wooden bucket and parts of the winch. The well was believed to have gone out of use around 200AD.

At the turn of the twentieth century spearheads, a knife and a ladle were found at the digging of land at West Ham for the construction of the railway siding to serve the Thornycroft factory in Worting Road. There was also a bronze hanging-bowl and gaming pieces made from bone, items possibly made to accompany the burial of a person of some importance.

The history of Basing, and the presence of the Basingas, is well documented and demonstrates how an area can derive it’s name; villages such as Oakley which was originally called Acleah (the field with oaks) is a good example. Also Cliddesden was clud and denu (rock or stone and valley), Sherborne sci (bright or clear) and brunna (spring or stream) and also Dummer dun (hill) and maer (pool or pond).

To be continued next week when I will be looking at local traders and the courts.