11 Historic Facts About Rutland

Us history lovers, we love a sunny day ambling through a new place exploring castles, historic sites and stately homes, don't we? And where better to explore than Rutland, England's smallest county? 

Here are 11 facts about this ancient East Midlands region... 

It has a Roman Mosaic and Villa Complex...
During lockdown in 2020, a landowner was walking across his farm when he noticed some ancient shards of pottery and oyster shells exposed by a recent ploughing. He called in archaeologists and they unearthed a Roman Villa and incredibly well-preserved mosaic depicting The Trojan War. The 1,500 year old mosaic is on private land and can't be viewed but you can read more about it in this article. 

...and a Sea Dragon 
In 2021 an ichthyosaur fossil was discovered in Rutland, which, 180 million years ago, was filled with warm, tropical seawater. Its skull alone measured six feet long and is thought to be the largest of its kind found in Britain. You can find out more about the Rutland Sea Dragon here

There's a castle, too
If you're into a bit of Norman architecture you can visit Oakham Castle, built between 1180 and 1190. It shows the Great Hall and is a great example of early Medieval building. It also has an impressive collection of ceremonial horseshoes, one of them given to the castle by Edward IV in the fifteenth century. Burghley House, Belvoir Castle and Rockingham Castle are also close by.

A really important Roman road runs through it 
Ermine Street, an important Roman road that runs from London (Londinium) to York (Eboracum), runs through Great Casterton where the Roman army built a strategic fort. A number of Roman discoveries have been found here. 

It had its own earldom
Thomas Manners was the first Earl of Rutland, created in 1525 by Henry VIII. The earldom passed through the Manners family and their official home was nearby Belvoir Castle. John Manners, in 1679, inherited the earldom and given a dukedom: he was the ninth earl and the first Duke of Rutland. 

... and two submerged villages
Rutland Water is a filled in reservoir that is on the site of two old villages: Middle and Nether Hambleton. The residents were relocated and the villages were filled with water to create a local water source in the 1970s. Archaeological work on the area before it was filled revealed Medieval and Roman artefacts along with an Iron Age hut circle

Rutland Water: Photo by Karen Cann on Unsplash

There's an Elizabethan School
Uppingham School was founded in 1584, during the reign of Elizabeth I. It's now a boarding school and its founder was Robert Johnson, the Archdeacon of Leicester. 

It was the last county in England to get a McDonald's
While the rest of the country were tucking into Big Macs and milkshakes, Rutland was without one of the fast food restaurants until 2020 when a McDonald's restaurant opened, creating 65 new jobs

You can soak up historic vibes over a pint
As you'd expect Rutland has its fair share of historic pubs and hotels. One of the most well known is The Falcon Hotel in Uppingham's Market Place, dating to the sixteenth century. The Blue Ball, near Oakham is a thatched seventeenth-century pub and The Fox is situated in another coaching inn dating from the 1600s.

...or in an ancient Bishop's Palace
Lyddington Bede House is owned by English Heritage and is open to the public. It was previously a palace of the Bishops of Lincoln and was, in the 1600s, later converted into an almshouse for 12 poor men, until 1930. 

It has a protected railway signal box
Oakham Signal Box was built in 1899, and has been flagged as having 'special architectural or historic interest'. It's an artefact from the growing Victorian railway industry and is still in use today. 

Thanks to Discover Rutland, who provided me with a lot of the facts and information in this post. To find out more about visiting Rutland, visit the Discover Rutland website

You might also like: England's Lost Kings and Queens, This is Why Norman Castle Builders Were Literal Geniuses and Spending a Day and Night at Warwick Castle.

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