The evidence for prehistoric habitation in and around Kingsclere comes from archaeological finds. The distinctive geology of Kingsclere made it an attractive location for a wide variety of Peoples. Peripatetic prehistoric people passed through the area appreciating the rich natural resources such as the springs for clean water and the flint for making tools. Flint tools that have been found in the area include a Palaeolithic hand axe (Bond, pers. comm.), a Mesolithic adze (Mitchell, Pers. Comm.) and a variety of Neolithic tools (Bull, 1961:6). Evidence for Bronze Age occupation comes from a number of Round Barrows that have been discovered in the area. A section through the ditch of one was excavated at Tidgrove Warren Farm, (see the archaeology pages). By the Iron Age people were living a more sedentary life, evidence for a large Iron Age settlement has been discovered by the University of Reading in their excavations at Silchester. The enormous Iron Age Hill fort at Beacon Hill, the unfinished hill fort on Ladle Hill and the univalet enclosure on Cottington’s Hill all demonstrate that a large number of people were living in and visiting the area in this period.
The earliest documented record of Kingsclere comes from King Alfred’s will (Woodman, 2004:11). After that the history of the village, like so many villages, is patchy until Domesday Book in 1086. The King is reported as being the major land owner in Kingsclere, holding the land in demesne. Kingsclere is reported as being part of the farm of Basingstoke from the reign of Edward the Confessor (Williams & Martin eds. 1992:93). Other land holders are listed for Kingsclere in Domesday but they hold smaller portions of land, but the over all suggestions are that Kingsclere was a relatively wealthy and large village. There are suggestions that the church was a minster church (Hinton, 2013:19) but these have never been confirmed.
Kingsclere was initially a very large parish, encompassing Ecchinswell, Headley and Ashford Hill. the size of the parish could account for the number of mills mentioned in the Domesday Book. However large tracts of the land included within the parish boundries was the open downlands on the southern side of the parish. The northern part of the parish was made up of open flatter lands more suitable for arable farming. The village of Kingsclere formed the nucleus of the parish, this was the place were the market was held and the main church situated. Some villages became self governing in the middle ages carrying out many of the duties that are traditionally assigned to the manorial court, for instance the maintainence of law and order, repairing the roads and the collection of taxes were frequently carried out by villagers (Dyer, 2009: 185). It is quite probable that Kingsclere followed this model, especially as large parts of the Kingsclere Hundred were part of the royal demesne, any village that regularly paid its taxes and kept law and order was likely to escape too much notice from the exchequer.
The following pages are articles originally published on Kingsclere -Its History and People by a variety of authors, each of whom are credited at the bottom of the page.
Domesday Book: A complete translation (1992) Williams, A. & Martin, G. (London: Penguin Books)
Bull, G.B. (1961) ‘The Story of Kingsclere’ The Kingsclere News (Kingsclere: Lawford)
Hinton, D. A. (2013): Demography: from Domesday and beyond, Journal of
Medieval History, DOI:10.1080/03044181.2013.775072
Woodman, P. (2004) ‘Too Poor to Live in and Too Hiealthy to Die in’ (unpublished MA dissertation, University of Reading)