Old Swindon on its hill retains much of the character of the little market town it was until comparatively recently.
The Corn Exchange, Old Town
New Town is a product of the Industrial Revolution - a canal junction in the eighteenth century and in the nineteenth the Victorian equivalent of the Kennedy Space Centre: the largest dedicated industrial complex in the world servicing the Great Western Railway.
Swindon's lively history was conditioned by geography and geology.
Midway between London and Bristol and also between the south coast and the midlands the town lies in a broad belt of historic trade routes and highways, from the prehistoric Ridgeway and Roman Ermine Street to the Wilts and Berks Canal, G.W.R. and modern M4
Early Roman Settlement
Swindon Hill, 500 feet above sea level, attracted settlement from earliest times for its strategic position and excellent water supply.
It is a great rock of Portland limestone that lies on top of the chalk hills and clay valleys of North Wiltshire.
The Romans discovered it, quarried the stone and shipped it down to their settlement below the hill at Durocornovium on the main road between Silchester and Cirencester.
The recent discovery of a complex of sanctuaries and temples at Abbey Meads near Blunsdon indicates both considerable settlement and religious significance
After the Romans left, Saxons lived on the hill, and named it.
A chieftain's long house and a cluster of huts once stood where Saxon Court is today, behind Market Square.
In 1066 Swindon was sufficiently valuable to be given to the Kings half-brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux, and a hundred years later the Norman Church of Holy Rood was granted to Southwich Priory.