Early History

                                                                     Introduction

Ashburton - from the Old English aesc-burna-tun = ash-stream-farmstead*
*Alternatives for farmstead are enclosure or village.
http://kepn.nottingham.ac.uk/map/place/Devon/Ashburton

Ashburton has a long history, but quite how long is difficult to determine. The presence of camps and/or enclosures seems to point to early habitation of the area, but dating them is difficult and it is hard to draw any reliable conclusions about them.

In 1876, and possibly still, a strip of parchment was deposited at the Albert Museum, Exeter. It was 'about 13 inches long by 3¾ inches wide, inscribed in clear and good Anglo-Saxon characters as follows:
This is Peading tunes landscaro thaer Aescburne utscyt...
...The writing has no date, but its character and style show it to be of the first half of the eleventh century; that is to say, about the reign of Edward the Confessor...
...literally "This is Peadington's land boundary of (or at) the Ashburn outfall." '
J B Davidson, Some Anglo-Saxon boundaries, now deposited at the Albert Museum, Exeter, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol 8 1876, p396ff

Land at Ashburton -
'aescburnan lande' - is mentioned in the will of Aelfwold, Bishop of Crediton circa 1000 (see Travelling under Gathering Together) and by the time of the Domesday Survey there is obviously quite a bit of activity in what is now our town. A hundred years after that, in the late 1100s, there is a reference to St Andrew's Church, so we can reliably say that the church in some form was in existence over 800 years ago.
Gradually more records appear, and we can start to say more about Ashburton. Thanks to Bishop Stapledon a market was granted in 1310 (for pages with more information see below), and the same bishop founded the St Lawrence Chapel in 1314. Ashburton was also a Stannary Town by the 1300s and had importance from that fact alone.
Markets and Fairs, under Gathering Together
The St Lawrence Chapel under Ashburton Schools
Quarries and Mines under Banks and Businesses


The sub-menus below begin with Dr Alan Lambourne's timeline of mediaeval Ashburton, which starts to disentangle some of the fact from the fiction about early Ashburton, distinguishing between records connected to the land, the town, St Andrew's Church and the St Lawrence Chapel. Pages follow on the Domesday Book entry and the eleven and twelve hundreds.