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What's it all About?
- Although people lived in this
area in Prehistoric and Roman times,
the counties of England were only established in Saxon
- Originally, they were areas
governed by an Ealdorman on behalf of the King. This title is still
remembered today by the Aldermen on borough and city councils.
- Berkshire seems to have
originally been two areas that eventually merged together.
- North and West Berkshire was
called Ashdown. The name means the ‘Ash Tree covered Downs’ and
refers to what we now call the Berkshire Downs.
- East Berkshire was called
Sunningum. The name means ‘Sunna’s People’s Place’. Sunna was
a local Saxon King whose capital was at Sonning. He is also remembered
in the names of Sunningdale, Sunninghill and Sunningwell.
- Berkshire may mean 'Box-Wood
County' or 'Sacred Oak Grove County'.
- The name ‘Berkshire’ is
first mentioned in the entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle about the
Viking invasion. This was in AD 870.
- In those days, the county’s
capital or ‘county town’ was at Wallingford. The Ealdorman also
had a country estate at Aldermaston which means ‘Ealdorman’s Town’.
- In 1016, the Viking, Canute,
became King of England. The Vikings called the Ealdormen, ‘Jarls’
(pronounced Yarls) and this is remembered today in the noble title of
- In the reign of Edward the
Confessor, the last Saxon King, Sheriffs began to replace Earls.
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