Chesterford lay on the border between the Trinovantes and the Catuvellauni, with the territory of another powerful tribe, the Iceni, starting a few miles further north.
Before the construction of the fort there had been a group of huts and enclosures beside the ford, close to where the road-bridge now stands. This settlement was still culturally of the Iron Age, both the houses and the locally-made pottery showing marked local elements. Pottery of Claudian date has been found in small quantities in both Great and Little Chesterford, which suggests that trade was going on and a small partly Romanized rural settlement was beginning to grow here by, say, 50 AD.
The Great Chesterford was possible built to house soldiers brought in the put down Boudica revolt in AD 60. It seems certain that the Great Chesterford fort was garrisoned for a relatively short time, but the developing road network greatly increased the importance and prosperity of the place. The Roman fort and the new roads changed all this. The local pottery was largely replaced by pots brought in from large production centres such as Colchester. The individual homestead enclosures gave way to a larger and more widely-spaced settlement which spread into the area where the fort had been after the garrison was withdrawn.
Since the desertion of the Roman town, probably some time during the fifth century, the walls have subsequently been robbed for building material and hard core.
Sites near Great Chesterford Vicus
- Great Chesterford Roman Fort (0 km)
Claudian Auxiliary Fort (AD 43–54)
- Great Chesterford Temple (1 km)
Temple Or Shrine
- Barkway (15 km)
Temple Or Shrine
- Akeman Street (Cambridgeshire) (16 km)
- Cambridge (Duroliponte) Roman Fort (17 km)
Claudian Auxiliary Fort (AD 43–54), Temple Or Shrine and Vicus
- Wimpole Lodge (18 km)
- Wixoe (21 km)
- Bishops Stortford (22 km)
- Braughing Roman Trading Post (22 km)
Iron-work and Minor Settlement
- Ridgewell (23 km)