History of Baldock: Roman Baldock

This was the scene that the Romans encountered when they reached Baldock soon after the invasion of 54 A.D. They straightened and paved the roads from Colchester and Verulamium which merged at Baldock to give a single road north to Sandy and Godmanchester where it joined Ermine Street, the major route from London and the south through Royston to York. Parts of the Roman roads through Baldock have been found and follow roughly the road to Gravely, the Buntingford Road and North Road but one also cuts across the modern road system on a line from the roundabout by Tescos to Hartsfield School.

The Icknield Way was also improved and its line defined by the Romans. It is very unlikely that the present High Street, Hitchin Street, Church Street and Whitehorse Street existed so that the Roman town centre, as judged by the focus of the roads and evidence of important Roman buildings such as a temple, was near Bakers Close and Hartsfield School on Clothall Road.

Extensive cemeteries and graveyards ranged east from there on the area now known as Walls Field and Clothall Common. Altogether, the archaeological evidence suggests an important small town whose name, unfortunately, is not known.

The people were Romano-British, that is the descendants of the native British inhabitants who had lived here before the Roman invasion but who had adopted many Roman ways. They lived in wooden houses similar to those of the Iron Age although some were underpinned by substantial flint and mortar foundations.

The Roman legions withdrew around 400 A.D. and Baldock seems to have decayed away slowly so that wells became disused and scrub and small trees re-established themselves where the town had been. Villages grew up nearby at Wallington, Weston, Willian, Letchworth, Norton, Stotfold, Radwell, Bygrave, Ashwell and Clothall.

For some reason, there were probably no more than a few individuals at Baldock and certainly no town or village so that in 1086, when the Domesday book was written, there was nothing to record for Baldock; it was just an outlying part of Weston manor.