Who founded Cambridge? ‘The University!’ is the reply from many visitors and local residents.
But the town has been here for nearly 2,000 years. It was only 800 years ago that the first students turned up, driven out of Oxford by the townspeople who resented the privileges given to the academics. By that date Cambridge was already flourishing as an inland port and trading centre. So the University was a late comer, and the town that they came to for refuge was already long established and prospering.
Long before the students arrived the town had been settled by successive waves of foreign invaders – Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans. And all left their mark on Castle Hill. Castle Hill is where Cambridge began as a Roman settlement guarding the river crossing below, and where the Normans stationed their garrison to control the defeated Saxons. At the foot of the hill warehouses and boats clustered around Quayside, making Cambridge a significant inland port in the medieval period and bringing wealth to the town.
Around the Norman castle mound later rulers built the castle that gave the area its name. And 2,000 years after the Romans governed the area from the hill top it remains the centre of government for Cambridgeshire.
This Saturday why not come on a tour, check out the view from the top of the castle mound, and discover the real history of Cambridge – far older than the colleges that the tourists come to visit!