THE HISTORY OF MILTON KEYNES

 

Contrary to common misconceptions, Milton Keynes is an area rich in tradition and history and can trace its existence back to prehistoric times.  The same misconception can apply to the name  Milton Keynes which is not an amalgamation of the names of two former villages, Milton and Keynes. Neither is it named after the poet (Milton) and the economist (Keynes). 

 

The town of Milton was recorded in the Domesday Book as Mideltone in 1086. Then in the 12th century, a manorial grant was given to the de Cahaignes family, who settled there. The name was anglicized into Kaynes  by the 13th century.  And from Mideltone Kaynes (recorded in 1227) the modern English name of Milton Keynes was derived. There is a further misconception about the use of the word city in relation to the area.   Whilst not a traditional City by Royal Decree, the Government officially designated Milton Keynes as the first New City in the United Kingdom which is why the term is used by the local people.

 

Middle Stone Ages:

Human settlement began in the Milton Keynes area around 2000 BC, mainly in the valleys of the rivers Ouse and Ouzel and their tributaries (Bradwell Brook and Shenley Brook).  Archaeological excavations revealed several burial sites dating from 2000 BC to 1500 BC.  Evidence for the earliest habitation was found at Blue Bridge, dating back to the Middle Stone Age.
 

Bronze Age:

Also in the Blue Bridge area, an unusually large round house was excavated and dated to the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age, about 700 BC.  The area that was to become Milton Keynes was relatively rich.  The Milton Keynes Hoard located in Monkston is possibly the largest hoard of Bronze Age jewellery ever found in Britain.

 

Iron Age:

Before the Roman Conquest of 43AD, the Catuvellauni, an Iron Age tribe controlled this area from their hill fort at Danesborough, near Woburn Sands.  Cremation grave goods from the Iron Age were found in the Bradwell Brook area including jewellery and fine pottery.

 

Romans:

Under Roman occupation, the area thrived, mainly due to the Roman road called Watling Street, that runs to this day through the area, and that gave rise to an associated Roman Town at Magiovinium (Fenny Stratford).   The oldest known gold coin in Britain was found here.  The foundations of a large Romano-British villa were excavated at Bancroft Park, complete with underfloor heating and mosaics.  Further excavations revealed that this site, overlooking the fertile valley of the Bradwell Brook, was in continuous occupation for 2000 years, from the Late Bronze Age to the early Saxon period.  Other Romano-British settlements were found at Stantonbury, Woughton and Wymbush. Industrial activity of the period included bronze working and pottery making at Caldecotte and Wavendon Gate, and many iron-working sites.
 

Anglo Saxons:

Large settlements have been excavated at Pennyland and near Milton Keynes Village.  Their cemeteries have been found at Newport Pagnell, Shenley and Tattenhoe.
 

Medieval Period:

Britains earliest excavated windmill is in Great Linford. The large oak beams forming the base supports still survived in the mill mound and were shown by radio carbon dating to originate in the first half of the 13th century.  The present stone tower mill at Bradwell was built in 1815, on a site convenient to the Grand Union Canal. An item of Bradwell Windmill's eccentricity is the small fireplace on the ground floor. Only one other mill in Britain is known to have taken this extraordinary risk, as flour dust is notoriously explosive. The Domesday Book of 1086 provides evidence of numerous settlements in the area of current day Milton Keynes.  To this day most of the 18 medieval settlements of the area remain at the heart of the various districts of Milton Keynes.
 

The New City:

In the 1960s the Government decided to create a number of  new towns  to cater for the overspill from London. In 1964 the Ministry of Housing and Local Government recommended that a  New City  be constructed near Bletchley.  A further study in 1965 recommended that the  New City  would encompass the towns of Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford.  On 23rd January 1967 the Government confirmed that a  New City  would be created to cater for a population of 250,000.  The name was taken from the existing village of Milton Keynes that was in the centre of the planned area. In 2004 John Prescott announced plans to double the size of Milton Keynes from a population of 300,000 to 600,000 making it the 10th largest connurbation in the United Kingdom.  He appointed English Partnerships to take on responsibility for the developments.