Linton and District Community Archive
The area covered by the Group is in the south-east corner of Cambridgeshire where the county borders Suffolk to the east and Essex to the south. The villages in the Group are the Abingtons (Great and Little), Balsham, Bartlow, Castle Camps, Hildersham, Horseheath, Linton, Shudy Camps, West Wickham, West Wratting, Weston Colville.
The country covered by the Group is varied. Villages such as Great and Little Abington, Hildersham and Linton are in the valley of the River Granta while those like Balsham, the Camps and West Wickham are on the chalk and boulder clay uplands, rising to all of 150 metres to the south and east. Evidence for the earliest settlement in the area has been found on the fertile alluvial and gravel soils of the valley bottom and dates from the Iron Age (although human activity dates from much earlier). However, settlement across the whole area was widespread by the Roman period and has continued ever since. All the villages, except Bartlow, are mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
From earliest times until comparatively recently, the people of the area have been dependent on the land for their living. The economy has been subject to the vagaries of weather, pests and disease, supply and demand with resulting periods of agricultural highs and depressions. For the most part, the farming has been mixed (with sheep, cattle and pigs all featuring) but has moved over the last two hundred years or so towards the intensive arable agriculture (wheat and barley) for which the area is now perhaps best known. Although the area is almost entirely laid down to arable, very few people now work or are dependent on the land itself.
From the medieval period, Linton was the main market town for the area. Although its markets and fairs have long gone, as the largest village in the area it retains its position as an important service centre. Secondary education is provided for the children of the area at Linton Village College and there the Health Centre, Library and Fire Station are all situated. Linton also has two primary schools and there are other primary schools in the larger villages of Great Abington, Balsham and Castle Camps. Smaller villages like Hildersham and West Wickham have fewer services.