Huddersfield sits at the confluence of the rivers Colne and Holme, whose waters and valleys have drawn people to the area for thousands of years. In common with much of Northern England it has been inhabited or settled at one time or another by Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age man, Ancient Britons, Romans, Angles, Jutes and Saxons as well as by conquering Norsemen and Normans.
Set out in any direction from the town centre and you can be sure that you will be treading on ground traversed by our earliest forbears, Roman Legions, Pictish raiders, Viking invaders, and Saxon kings – there was once a Saxon court at Almondbury.
Castle Hill near Huddersfield together with its Victoria Tower is unquestionably the town’s most recognizable landmark. The castle in question was the one built on the hill near Almondbury in the reign of King Stephen (1135-1154) but demolished two centuries later. Construction work on Victoria Tower, built to commemorate the 60th year of the reign of Queen Victoria, was completed in 1899 (in the 62nd year of her reign). However, these facts are not what makes Castle Hill so valuable.
The true importance of Castle Hill is found in the remains of its 2,500 year old, Iron Age hill fort, itself probably built on even earlier settlements, and it is this rather than the more conspicuous 19th century addition that lends the site its status as Scheduled Ancient Monument as well as its true historic value.
Although Huddersfield and its surrounding area is thought to have been continuously settled for at least the last 4,000 years, the expansion and prosperity of the town is owed principally to its proto-industrial and industrial past. Huddersfield was above all a Georgian and Victorian construct and this legacy is visible wherever you go, evidenced by canals, converted textile mills, Victorian shopping arcades and the fine architecture of St George’s Square and beyond.
Before the arrival of the industrialists however, the district of Huddersfield was variously a patchwork of linked settlements, a baronial manor ruled over by the King’s Tenant-in-Chief, a centre for the wool trade and a market town by Royal Charter. When the machine age was born, the area became a focus for the Luddite rebellion spreading up from Nottinghamshire and became infamous through the murder of a local manufacturer.