Medieval Grantham

Trade in Medieval Grantham

At the time of the Domesday book, Grantham was recorded as having 111 burgesses. These were people who were earning and paying tax. The population was around 555, which for the time was quite a big town.


Four watermills were recorded as existing in Grantham at the time. These would have provided further income for the Lord. Grantham is on the Great North Road, and near the River Witham, which meant that the town had great long-distance connections for trading and communications. 

Both markets and fairs were held in Grantham. There were no other markets for seven miles, which meant that Grantham was a very important centre for local trade. It was also an important wool trading town. What characteristics does Grantham have that made it ideal for this?


In medieval times, the wealth of a town was linked to how many trades and crafts it had. You could tell what kind of trade a person did for a living, as until the fourteenth century, a person's surname was usually their occupation as well! 

In 1332, Grantham is recorded as having 69 people with artisan or urban occupations, and only three with rural occupations. This suggests that the town was prosperous at this time. Have a look at this worksheet for a list of medieval surnames linked to people's occupations.


Discussion ideas:

  • Looking at the surnames sheet, what does the names tell us about the work people did in Medieval Grantham?
  • Why do you think people are no longer named for the job they do?
  • What industries existed in Medieval times that no longer exist today?


Artisan - Skilled person who makes a craft
Characteristics - Features or things people notice
Domesday Book - A book listing everyone who owned land in England in 1086, created to find out how much taxes they would pay
Occupation - Job or career
Prosperous - Making money or being successful
Rural - In the countryside or linked to it
Urban - Something linked to a town or city

Document icon Learning article provided by: Lincolnshire Historic Environment Record | 
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