AS LOCKDOWN looms once again, it may seem hard to feel anything positive can come from these troubled times.

However, there are many stories in the news to demonstrate how individuals and communities, using ingenious and innovative thinking, have not only overcome difficulties but have improved things for the future. In fact, Wallingford’s rich history has much to inspire us…

Back in the 880s, this area faced a very different lethal terror - the Vikings. The technological skills employed at the time in building Wallingford’s substantial earth ramparts and moat system created a marvel that has survived over 1000 years.

One man per local household was called in to dig and defend a stretch of new wall. They worked in gangs of four men to each ‘pole’ (5 metres).

It took 2400 men to achieve the circuit of rampart and ditch (10m from top to bottom), and water was cleverly channelled in from streams to the west to fill the ditch. It was a remarkable community response to a life-threatening challenge and Wallingford is the largest and most important example of its kind still surviving!

Today these ramparts are deemed ‘at risk’ by Historic England but plans are already being made to get local people involved in helping to carefully clear the scrub that is threatening them - it will be another great chance for us to work together.

Engineering skills have influenced many other aspects of Wallingford’s fascinating history over the centuries.

Wallingford Castle symbolises leading techniques and ideas of medieval architects: first came the great Norman motte and bailey castle, built in 1067, which ingeniously utilised the Saxon water system and town wall; then came its development as one of the earliest examples of a concentric castle, perfected by Richard Earl of Cornwall in the mid-13th century.

Less skilled were the demolition gangs used by Oliver Cromwell to destroy the edifice in 1652!

The castle remains are much enjoyed by the public but need constant care and will need creative thinking and modern technology to ensure their continued existence for future generations.

Wallingford has survived many more hard times and devastations in its history. To name but two: The Black Death in 1348-50 - two terrible years - much in mind in present times; then the great poverty after the Civil War in the 17th century.

Yet the town has always fought back, and the Town Hall, built in 1670 when it was impoverished, still survives to testify to the resilience of the townspeople. It now needs much care again, but what an icon it is!

Wallingford recovered in the 17th-18th centuries largely through developing trade in local malt to supply brewers in a fast-expanding London, adapting to modern needs and reaching the wider market through innovations in water transport. Iron-founding brought further prosperity in the 19th century.

Most recently, knowledge of our pre-historic communities in the Bronze and Iron Ages has been greatly enhanced by archaeology, prior to housing development.

Such fine heritage has much potential to inspire and prosper our growing community!