Buckinghamshire Timeline

The timeline shows history from the earliest period when people first arrived in Buckinghamshire to the modern day. Hover over the time periods on the left for a brief explanation and click to see more information. Use your browser scroll bar to move backwards and forwards through time.

A 650 thousand-year period during which human-like apes evolved into modern humans and spread to all continents except Antarctica.  The British climate was extremely variable, ranging from arctic conditions during the Ice Ages to tropical. People used stone tools and weapons, and followed migrating herds across a land bridge connecting Britain to Europe. A period of warming climate and rising sea levels following the end of the latest Ice Age.  People were nomadic, living by hunting, gathering food and fishing and using sophisticated stone and bone tools and weapons.  There is evidence that people were deliberating changing their surroundings to control wild animals and plants. Farming first developed with domesticated animals and cereal crops and people began to clear woodland, settle in small groups and to use pottery.  Communities built large impressive monuments in earth, stone, and timber. First metal-working in copper, bronze and gold for tools, weapons and decoration, though flint and stone is still more common.  Increasingly settled communities began to divide up the land with boundaries, built the first hillforts and buried their dead in round barrows and cremation cemeteries. First use of coins in Britain and first use of iron for tools and weapons.  Boundary disputes and raiding resulted in increasingly complex settlement and hillfort defences and large tribal groupings began to form. Military invasion resulted in Britain becoming part of the Roman empire for 400 years, with highly organised government, trade, industry, settlement and transport networks and the first written records for Britain.  People struggled to maintain a Roman way of life after the last troops were withdrawn. Raiders from Germany, Scandinavia and Holland quickly began to settle across southern Britain, creating the first kingdoms.  Initially pagan, people were converted to Christianity, setting up the first monasteries and many of our existing villages and towns.  The kingdoms eventually united into one and the shire counties, including Buckinghamshire, were created as administrative units. Following the Norman military conquest a highly feudal society developed with greater emphasis on religion and dynastic politics.  This is the first period from which large numbers of written accounts and substantial buildings survive to the present-day. A period in which society became more diverse with a massive expansion in trade and industry, although Buckinghamshire remains mostly agricultural and rural.  The survival of buildings of all sorts becomes common and our present settlement and transport network is established.  The enclosure movement creates our present pattern of small fields, farms and woods in the countryside. The first large-scale industries are established in Buckinghamshire and our towns rapidly expand in size.  Recognizable political, social, civic, economic, health and education systems emerge with their own distinctive buildings and during the two World Wars and the Cold War, large military complexes are built.