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What's it all About?

Here's Berkshire! - © Nash Ford Publishing


  • Although people lived in this area in Prehistoric and Roman times, the counties of England were only established in Saxon times.
  • 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 an Earl.
  • In the reign of Edward the Confessor, the last Saxon King, Sheriffs began to replace Earls.

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    © Nash Ford Publishing 2004. All Rights Reserved.