Britain's Oldest Cities

#1 Ripon (886)

Ripon is a small city located in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. The first building to have been built in the area is a Christian church named the Inhrypum, which archaeologists believe to have been constructed in the year 658. Furthermore, the current city cathedral dates to 1080 AD, featuring beautifully carved statues of monarchs, saints, and painted glass windows. It was granted its charter in the year 886, almost two hundred years before the second oldest city in the country was recognised.

#2 London (1066)

A city that certainly needs no introduction, London is today the capital and largest city of England, standing on the River Thames and located within the County of London, England. It was settled first by the Romans in 47 CE, known then as Londinium, only to be burnt down less than twenty years later in a barbarian siege. It was rebuilt thereafter, and soon prospered, boasting a population of around 60,000. After the Romans were driven out of England, it was once again abandoned and would not be properly resettled until some five centuries later, when King Edward the Confessor rebuilt much of the city, including Westminster Abbey. After the invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066, it was given its charter recognising its status as a city.

#3 Edinburgh (1124)

Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish government and the capital of Scotland since the 15th century. It was built by a Brittonic Celtic tribe known to the Romans as the Votadini. Dominion over the settlement of Edinburgh was contested for many centuries between the Angles and the Votadini, before it was abandoned in the 11th century and the Scots reclaimed it once more. It was then granted its charter in the year 1124, coming to be widely regarded by the 13th century as the great capital of Scotland.

#4 Chichester (1135)

Chichester is a cathedral city and parish town located within West Sussex that was founded by Roman settlers in the 1st century. Shortly after its foundation, it became a bustling hub for commerce and trade. The city itself retains some of its Roman architecture, including Roman baths which are preserved by the city’s local museum, the Novium. It was officially granted its charter in the year 1135.

#5 Lincoln (1154)

Lincoln is a cathedral city and the county town of Lincolnshire. It is believed to have been settled as early as the Iron Age (roughly 400 BC-1 AD in Western Europe), with traces of an Iron Age wooden settlement being located in 1972. It was settled once more by the Romans in their invasion of England during the 1st century, and then abandoned roughly four centuries later when the Roman Empire fell. Germanic tribes settled in the area around the city shortly after, but the city itself would not be properly reinstated until William the Conqueror’s arrival in England. It was officially granted its charter in the year 1154.

#6 Oxford (1154)

Oxford is a city famous for its thriving, world-renowned educational institutes in the University of Oxford, which itself dates back to roughly 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the second oldest overall. It was settled after the departure of the Romans during the Anglo-Saxon period of England (roughly 500 AD-1000 AD) and granted its charter in the year 1154.

#7 Nottingham (1155)

Nottingham is a city situated within the English Midlands, Nottinghamshire. It boasts a legendary past, most commonly associated with the age-old fable of Robin Hood - the county itself being widely known as the land of Robin Hood. Foundations for the city were constructed in 1068 with the construction of Nottingham Castle, which was an occasional royal residence during the Middle Ages. It was officially granted its charter in the year 1155.

#8 Winchester (1155)

Winchester is a cathedral city situated within Hampshire, England. Formerly the capital city of England, it is located close to Southampton. While it remains today one of the wealthiest and most beautiful cities in all of England, after the Norman invasion it lost its status as capital city. Its history dates back to the prehistoric era, having then been settled by the Romans and then once again by the Anglo-Saxon kings. It was granted its charter in the year 1156.

#9 Exeter (1156)

Exeter is a city located in Devon, England. It is renowned across the country for its ancient Roman architecture, much of which remains in good condition. It is home to settlements dating back to the Iron Age, though it was not until the Romans arrived that it was built up into a fortified city. It was officially granted its charter in the year 1156.

#10 Carlisle (1158)

Carlisle is a city located in north west England, situated just 8 miles south of the Scottish border. It was a strong, fortified town long before the arrival of the Romans. In 122, it was visited by the Roman emperor Hadrian, who decreed that a wall should be built on the border in order to defend against the threat of Scottish barbarians from the north, whom the Romans had failed to conquer. Carlisle Castle, now a property managed by the English Heritage charity, is a historically significant site constructed over 900 years ago. Carlisle was officially granted its charter in the year 1158.

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