Campton & Chicksands
The following is an extract from a booklet entitled 'Guide to Campton' published in 1981 by the Parish Council, and given to new residents. It is a brief summary from a longer and more complete history of the Village entitled 'Campton. A Study of a Bedfordshire Village' by D.J.Cadman.
THE STORY OF THE VILLAGE
In early pre-Roman days - 600 B.C. onwards - the Celts and Belgae came from the continent and made settlements in the district. The Celts gave our river its name - the Chamble but, unfortunately, this name is no longer used. It is likely that these people established a farming settlement near or on the site of the present village.
Early in the first century A.D. England became a province of the mighty Roman Empire and remains of Roman villas have been found near Shefford. In 410 A.D. the Romans left Britain and during the fifth and sixth centuries the whole of Eastern and Southern England was repeatedly invaded by the Anglo Saxons. They came first as warriors and conquerors and later as settlers and farmers.
It is all but certain one family group seeking a settlement site and land to farm reached here. They established a "tun" or fortified homestead near the water course where springs and shallow wells gave a good water supply. Thus "Chambleton" came into existence. Through the centuries the named changed many times until it became the "Campton" of today.
The land is cleared: open fields were created
The land around the new settlement was certainly well wooded and uncultivated. Perhaps there were small areas of land roughly cleared by the previous settlers but much of the land to be cleared was virgin forest and scrub land.
It took many years of hard labour to remove the natural vegetation and create fields on which crops could be grown and stock grazed.
As there were no easy crossings of the river Chamble our early Camptonians did not seek to possess land south and east of it. This land went to Meppershall. Nor did they attempt to win any land north of the river Flitt, and such land was later owned by Chicksands Priory.
During the Seventh Century A.D. central England, including our area had become the single kingdom of Mercia. In 653 A.D. it was converted to Christianity. When the faith reached our district Camptonians built a church of wood - most probably on the same site as the present one. Later they built a water mill.
In 835 the eastern part of Mercia was attacked by the Danes who won many victories. For many years Campton lay within the Dane law and had to pay tribute to the Danish overlords.
In 924 the Danes lost control of Eastern England and our area became a Saxon administrative unit known as Bedanfordscir which later became the County of Bedfordshire. The county was divided into "hundreds" and our village together with our neighbours was placed in the Clifton Hundred.
In 975 a long period of relative peace was broken as the Danes renewed their attacks and many places were devastated. Peace was not restored until 1017 when Canute, already ruler of Denmark and Norway, conquered all England. On the whole he ruled well and his reign was relatively tranquil.