Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Ancient market town and mud springs

The Wilts and Berks Canal in Wootton Bassett
Today I walked along here with my great friend Hilary; restoration work is still ongoing and much of the canal is overgrown. I found myself asking why had I ignored Wootton Bassett for so long, it is surrounded by hamlets I have never heard of (e.g. Bushton) and has view of a white horse near Broadtown, the existence of which I had been completely unaware of until today. The canal also has the 'rare geological phenomenon' of mud springs nearby. I did not see them on this occasion as at present the ground is very dry and water levels low.
I have Ian, a former Swindon resident to thank for the mud springs link below - fascinating. I will go back soon for a good old ramble around Wootton Bassett.

The Old Town Hall in Wootton Bassett - built in the 17th century, now a museum

The market town of Wootton Bassett has recently become well known for the saddest of reasons. Because of its proximity to RAF Lyneham, this is the high street that comes to a halt as a show respect to the young soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Just four miles west of Swindon and, until the arrival of the Great Western Railways in the 1840s, of far greater importance as a town, Wootton Bassett dates back to Saxon times; the first reference to it was recorded was in 681 AD. The name comes from Wodeton or Woodeton meaning settlement in the wood - possibly a clearing in Braydon Forest.
It was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. For more on its history see below.
Many thanks to Paul Gahan for being kind enough to correct some of the detail in my original entry and for providing addtional information.