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Bowden Before the Conquest Lectures 2004 
  
Lectures formed the research element of the Anglo Saxon Year.  We held a summer workshop with lectures in the autumn by Dr Graham Jones, leading to further investigation and activity over the next few years.

We studied place names and what could be gleaned from them.  The name of the village, Bowden, was written in the Domesday Book as Bugedone, which can be interpreted as Bugga’s or Bucga’s dun.  A dun is the Anglo-Saxon name for a long flat topped hill. this aptly describes the hill dominating the village to the south and separating it from Market Harborough.


We have a village paddock which was called 
Buckminster Close in the 17th century. Could there be a link to Bugga and a possible minster church nearby?  The most likely candidate for the minster would be St Mary in Arden, which we are currently researching. We have followed up these clues with 4 digs in Buckminster Close; geo phys; and TV work with Michael Wood and his programme on nearby Kibworth, which established St Mary’s as an important church.  

We studied the few furlong names from the open fields known at the time, but later were able to expand our knowledge with the acquisition from The British Library of a copy of a medieval field survey, written in Latin and dating from the 1330s.  We published Furlong and Furrow  in 2011 which gives a translation of the document and lists and explains the meaning of the many furlong names. Earlier names were also studied, some originating from the pre Roman brythonic language, e.g. Arden may derive from ardu  meaning high in status or locality. 

We learnt about the early origins of the Anglo-Saxons who settled here and how there may have been a small regio spanning the River Welland, later absorbed into powerful Mercia. Later Bowden was part of the Five Boroughs under the Danelaw.  After the death of King Alfred, his son Edward the Elder, took over control of much of this area and the counties of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire were founded in about 920AD cutting Bowden in half as the Welland became the county boundary, as it remains today for much of its course. See Free leaflets. 

Another topic was the nucleation of villages which unusually did not happen completely in Great Bowden.  Even today the village is only semi-nucleated and distinct areas can be located around a number of greens.  The words Green and End present in the different focal points are unusual as they are normally found in areas of wood and pasture and not in areas such as Bowden where there were open fields. Early field patterns perhaps pre dating the open fields were looked at on modern maps where it is still possible to pick out long straight lines which may be the remains of field boundaries from the 6th century.

We also studied the Domesday entry for the village and learnt that Bowden was the hub of a big estate.  There were many more people here than the entry suggests and as a Royal Manor it must have been administered by a King’s Reeve.  Somewhere an Anglo-Saxon hall is waiting to be discovered.  We have ideas about where this may be situated but have not yet been able to excavate and look for it.

We studied other church names in the area including the village church of St Peter and St Paul and its royal origins, and explored the possibility that Market Harborough’s Horsefair may have had its origins on top of Bowden Ridge. The leaflet Archaeological Tour of Great Bowden also covers many of the topics above.