Driveways in Melton Mowbray

Melton Mowbray (/ˈmɛltən ˈmbri/) is a town and unparished area in the Melton district in Leicestershire, England, 19 miles (31 km) north-east of Leicester, and 20 miles (32 km) south-east of Nottingham. It lies on the River Eye, known below Melton as the Wreake. The town had a population of 27,670 in 2019.[1] The town is sometimes promoted as Britain’s “Rural Capital of Food”;[2] it is the home of the Melton Mowbray pork pieand is the location of one of six licensed makers of Stilton cheese.[3]

History[edit]

Toponymy[edit]

The name comes from the early English word Medeltone – meaning ‘Middletown surrounded by small hamlets’ (as do Milton and Middleton). Mowbray is the Norman family name of early Lords of the Manor – namely Robert de Mowbray.[4]

Early history[edit]

In and around Melton, there are 28 scheduled ancient monuments, some 705 buildings of special architectural or historical interest, 16 sites of special scientific interest, and several deserted village sites.[5][6][7] Its industrial archaeology includes the Grantham Canal and remains of the Melton Mowbray Navigation. Windmill sites and signs of ironstone working and smelting suggest that the site was densely populated in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Many small communities existed and strategic points at Burrough Hill and Belvoirwere fortified.

Roman times[edit]

In Roman times, Melton benefited from proximity to the Fosse Way and other major Roman roads, and to military centres at Leicester and Lincoln. Intermediate camps were established, for example, at Six Hills on the Fosse Way. Other Roman trackways passed north of Melton along the scarp of the Vale of Belvoir linking Market Harborough to Belvoir, and south to Oakham and Stamford.

Danelaw[edit]

Evidence of settlement in the Anglo-Saxon and 8th–9th-century Danelaw periods shows in place names. Along the Wreake Valley, the Danish suffix “-by” is common, e.g. in Asfordby, Dalby, Frisby, Hoby, Rearsby and Gaddesby. A cemetery of 50–60 graves of pagan Anglo-Saxon origin has been found in Melton Mowbray. Most villages and their churches had origins before the Norman Conquest of 1066, shown by stone crosses at Asfordby and Sproxton and Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at Goadby Marwood, Sysonby and Stapleford.

Melton Mowbray had six recorded crosses from several centuries: (i) Kettleby Cross near today’s filling station near the junction of Dalby Road and Leicester Road, (ii) Sheep Cross at Spital End, now Nottingham Street/Park Road junction, (iii) Corn Cross at Swine Lane/Spittle End junction, remade and re-erected at the Nottingham St/High St junction in 1996 as a memorial to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, (iv) Butter Cross or High Cross at the west end of Beast Market, again rebuilt from remains of an original Saxon cross in 1986–1987 in the Market Place, (v) Sage Cross at the East end of the Beast Market close to Saltgate, in Sherrard Street opposite Sage Cross Street, and (vi) Thorpe Cross at the end of Saltgate, near the junction of Thorpe Road and Saxby Road. The original crosses were removed or destroyed during the Reformation and other iconoclastic periods, or to make room for traffic or other development.[8]