BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

18 September 2014
Accessibility help
Local History

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

History of a Landscape: Thriplow

By Dr Alan Crosby and Shirley Wittering
Image of a Roman coin found in Thriplow
A coin found in the meadows of Thriplow 

Find out how to uncover the history of a village by paying close attention to the landscape. Join Shirley Wittering and her colleagues as they conduct orginal research and consult with specialists to produce a picture of the past.

Historical background
  • Could you read the local landscape and reveal the secrets of the past?
  • What were those 'humps and bumps' off School Lane?
  • Discover the origins of 'pingoes'
  • Find out how a group of enthusiasts banded together to find the answers

Image of Thriplow village sign
Thriplow village sign 
Thriplow lies on a gentle north-west-facing slope in the valley of the river Cam. Land in the parish ranges from about 20m above sea-level in the north to 50m in the south.

A small stream rises in the village and flows north. Other streams form the eastern and western boundaries of the parish. The village itself lies in a basin formed by a hard type of chalk, known locally as clunch, which is suitable for building and from which plentiful good water bubbles up in springs.

The parish gets its name from a hlaw, a Saxon word meaning 'hill or mound' usually associated with a sacred site: the present church stands near a Bronze Age burial mound which is now ploughed flat but was once 80 feet (24 metres) across and 15-20 feet (5-6metres) high.

Standing at the highest point in the parish and capped with gleaming chalk, it would have been visible in all directions for many miles. Trippa, who gave his name to the village, was probably the chieftain buried within the mound.

'The earliest mention of Thriplow is in two Anglo-Saxon manuscripts ...'

The earliest mention of Thriplow is in two Anglo-Saxon manuscripts which tell the story of the Saxon nobleman Byrhtnoth, who in his will bequeathed his estates (including Thriplow) to the monks of Ely Abbey. After the Abbey of Ely had acquired the land at the end of the 10th century, the present village was founded, with the houses in the middle surrounded by three open fields, which were divided into many strips cultivated by the villagers.

Each man would have a fair share of the crops and a fair share of good and poor soils. Thriplow is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and by the 14th century there were four manors in the parish. The village was enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1840, when the great open fields were divided up into small hedged enclosures.

Published: 2005-03-03

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy