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Horncastle History

The Romans built a fort at Horncastle, which possibly became a Saxon Shore Fort. Although fortified, Horncastle was not on any important Roman roads, which suggests that the River Bain was the principal route of access.

Roman Horncastle has become known as Banovallum (i.e. “Wall on the River Bain”).  This name has been adopted by several local businesses and by the town’s secondary school – but in fact the actual Roman name for the settlement is not definitely known: Banovallum was suggested in the 19th century through an interpretation of the Ravenna Cosmography, a 7th century list of Roman towns and road-stations; Banovallum may in fact have been Caistor.

As a former Roman settlement, there are above ground remains of the Roman wall to be found in various parts of the town. The best preserved sections are on display within the Library where it is a major feature within the building.

The Saxons called the town Hyrnecastre, from whence its modern name arose.

Horncastle is mentioned in Domesday Book of 1086, when it was listed as consisting of 41 households, including twenty-nine villagers and twelve smallholders, and had 100 acres of meadow and two mills, all belonging to King William.

Horncastle has been a Historic Chartered Market town since 1231 and was once the venue for the world’s largest horse fair. At its peak in the 1800s, buyers and sellers were arriving from all over Europe to trade. Unfortunately the horse fair slowly declined over the years until ceasing in the mid 1900s. Despite this, trade still continued in the streets of the town, and today we still hold markets on Thursdays and Saturdays.

You can read more about the history of Horncastle on the Horncastle History and Heritage Society website

The book A History of Horncastle by J Conway Walter, is available free from the Gutenberg Project and has downloads available for various e-readers and tablets, or to read online. You can find the book HERE

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