Northamptonshire (Map) - Framed Picture - 12" x 16"
Northamptonshire, archaically known as the County of Northampton, is a county in the East Midlands of England.
In about 500 BC the Iron Age was introduced into the area by a continental people in the form of the Hallstatt culture, and over the next century a series of hill-forts were constructed at Arbury Camp, Rainsborough camp, Borough Hill, Castle Dykes, Guilsborough, Irthlingborough, and most notably of all, Hunsbury Hill.
In the 1st century BC, most of what later became Northamptonshire became part of the territory of the Catuvellauni, a Belgic tribe, the Northamptonshire area forming their most northerly possession.
The Catuvellauni were in turn conquered by the Romans in 43 AD.
The Roman road of Watling Street passed through the county, and an important Roman settlement, Lactodorum, stood on the site of modern-day Towcester.
After the Romans left, the area eventually became part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, and Northampton functioned as an administrative centre.
The Mercians converted to Christianity in 654 AD with the death of the pagan king Penda.
The county was first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1011), as Hamtunscire: the scire (shire) of Hamtun (the homestead). The "North" was added to distinguish Northampton from the other important Hamtun further south: Southampton - though the origins of the two names are in fact different.
Rockingham Castle was built for William the Conqueror and was used as a Royal fortress until Elizabethan times. In 1460, during the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Northampton took place and King Henry VI was captured. The now-ruined Fotheringhay Castle was used to imprison Mary, Queen of Scots, before her execution.
George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, was born into the Washington family who had migrated to America from Northamptonshire in 1656. George Washington's ancestor, Lawrence Washington, was Mayor of Northampton on several occasions and it was he who bought Sulgrave Manor from Henry VIII in 1539. It was George Washington's great-grandfather, John Washington, who emigrated in 1656 from Northants to Virginia.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, parts of Northamptonshire and the surrounding area became industrialised. The local specialisation was shoemaking and the leather industry and by the end of the 19th century it was almost definitively the boot and shoe making capital of the world.