“CHESTERFORD (GREAT), a parish (formerly a market-town) in the hundred of UTTLESFORD, county of ESSEX, 4 miles (N. W. by N.) from Saffron-Walden, containing 755 inhabitants.
The living is a discharged vicarage, with the rectory of Little Chesterford annexed, in the archdeaconry of Colchester, and diocese of London, rated in the king's books at £10, endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty, and in the alternate patronage of the Crown and the Marquis of Bristol. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is an ancient and spacious structure, and formerly contained a chantry founded in the reign of Henry VIII., by William Howden, the revenue of which, at the dissolution, was £9. 9. 7.
The market has been discontinued: a fair for horses is held on the 5th of July.
There is a free school, endowed with land by John Hart, Esq., and under the management of the Master and Fellows of St. Mary Magdalene's College, Cambridge: there are also several charitable bequests for distribution among the poor.
This place, which is situated on the eastern bank of the river Granta, though now only an inconsiderable village, was anciently a town of considerable importance. It is by most antiquaries identified with the Camboricum of Antoninus, and the foundation of walls, enclosing a quadrangular area of fifty acres, was, till very lately, plainly discernible: that it was a Roman station is evident, not only from its name, and the numerous coins and other Roman antiquities discovered at various times, but from its contiguity to several Roman roads, of which the Iknield and Ermin streets intersect each other in the immediate vicinity. Roman bricks, and coins of the earlier and later emperors, have been found in great quantities; of which, in 1769, a large number, in good preservation was found in an earthen pot, by some workmen, who were digging up the foundation of the walls for materials to mend the road: in 1730, many coins and entire skeletons were discovered, besides a small urn of red clay, containing written scrolls of parchment, which were destroyed before they were decyphered; and in 1786 were found a bronze bust, fibulae, gold and brass instruments, and utensils of various kinds, of which one of gold, & the form of a staple, and weighing eight pounds, lay buried under a rude mass of bronze: a stone trough, in the form of half an octagon, of which the four compartments were ornamented with human figures in relievo, was for a considerable time used as a reservoir for water, in a smith's shop; it was subsequently in the possession of Dr. Gower, of Chelmsford, who referred it to that class of receptacles for ashes, called Quietoria. Besides the larger camp, or station, are several smaller camps; one near the church, in the grounds between which and the river are traces of an amphitheatre; at the distance of half a mile from the larger camp is another, called Hingeston barrows, and a third on the opposite side of the river.
On an eminence, near the Roman road from Inckleton towards Newmarket, is Fleamsdyke, where there is a small square fort, probably the castra exploratorum, in the centre of which are vestiges of a building: the Roman road to Grantchester may be plainly discovered, forming a ridge of two hundred yards, in a direction towards the river, above Cambridge.
The custom of Borough English, whereby the youngest son inherits prevails in this parish.”
From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016