Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Catterick was also a military camp in Roman Britain

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This edited article about place-names originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 874 published on 14 October 1978.

Do you live at Catterick?

Nearly twenty centuries ago there was a military camp at Catterick – and there is one there today. However, it was the Roman eagle which stood over the town in those early times rather than the Union Jack which flies there today.

The Romans founded Catterick as a military base on the Great North Road where it crossed the river Swale. They gave the camp the name of Cataractum, which means "waterfall". Over the succeeding centuries, the name became blurred by Saxon tongues, and by the 12th century the town was called Catterick.

Before the Norman conquest, Catterick was one of the most important towns in the north, and the Northumbrian kings are supposed to have had a palace here.

Today, Catterick is dominated by its enormous military complex, which is the equivalent of Aldershot in the south. However, this Yorkshire town also has a race-course and several historic buildings which attract many visitors.

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