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Late Saxon Planned Towns


Documentary, topographical, and archaeological evidence suggests that the rectilinear street plan of modern Winchester was laid out as a planned system not later than the mid tenth century and probably before c. 904. Among the places listed in the Burghal Hidage there are seven which show clear evidence of rectilinear planning which is not of Roman origin. Four are on the sites of Roman towns—Winchester, Chichester, Exeter, and Bath—and three on non-Roman sites—Wareham, Wallingford, and Cricklade. These plans are seen as the result of a deliberate policy of urban formation in response to the military situation during Alfred's reign (871–99). These places are not so much fortresses as fortified towns in which the rectilinear street plan is a deliberate expression of the organization and apportionment of the land for permanent settlement. Rectilinear street systems appear to be characteristic of the larger places founded or re-organized by Edward the Elder or Athelstan, but rectilinear planning does not thereafter appear until the plantation of new towns in the Norman and later period.

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The Antiquaries Journal
  • ISSN: 0003-5815
  • EISSN: 1758-5309
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquaries-journal
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