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Billington Before 1086

Great Billington from the Little Billington road January 2009
Great Billington from the Little Billington road January 2009

Bedfordshire County Council Historic Environment Officer Stephen Coleman, in a parish survey on Leighton Buzzard and its hamlets written in 1981 and held in Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service surveyed evidence for prehistoric settlement in the area. No Palaeolithic or Mesolithic finds have ever been made in Billington but as the parish is adjacent to a river, the Ouzel, and the centre of the village of Great Billington sits on a major rise on the landscape it seems reasonable to assume that the area would have been populated at some points in the remote past. Seven flint axe heads dating from the Neolithic were discovered in Billington as well as a flint scraper dating from the early Bronze Age from Billington Road in Leighton Buzzard.

No Bronze Age artefacts have been found in Billington itself but the crest of the north-east end of Billington Hill was enclosed by a single rampart earthwork and the site was occupied throughout the Iron Age to judge by pottery found there in 1959 whilst the site was being bulldozed and razed. The field at the centre of the site was called Aldbury ("old fort") but whether the site was a hillfort or a settlement of a less martial nature cannot now be determined. Some Romano-British pottery was also found at the site, suggesting continuity for around a thousand years and a Roman pot was also found in the north-east corner of the parish.

A boundary charter for Linslade of 966 mentions a road called Thiodweg (later called Theedway or Ede Way - the People's Highway, a very late 1990s concept) which ran west from the Icknield Way just south of Streatley and dividing Leighton Buzzard from Billington. Otherwise, no specifically Dark Age finds have been reported from the parish.