The first mention of Sherston or Scorranstone is found when Ethelred, Earldorman held a ‘Gumot’ at Gloucester in 896 AD. The Romans almost certainly occupied the settlement much earlier as remains of ancient Roman earthworks have been found. Also traces of a large Roman villa built in approximately 350AD have been excavated in a field on the outskirts of the village. The Fosse Way being two miles away, and remains of a Military station at nearby Easton Grey suggests that Sherston was of great importance during the Romano British period. Records of early life in Sherston are very scarce, and so history and legend intermingle, as with the story of the local hero John Rattlebone.
In the midsummer of 1016 the Danish King Canute came with a great army. The Saxons were led by King Eadmund Ironside, and by his side the Captain of the local militia, John of Sherston, given the surname Rattlebone possibly because of the lusty blows he dealt with his Broad sword. The battle lasted two long days in the fields surrounding the village.
Eventually Canute broke camp and retreated back to London. John had received a mortal wound to his side, but to enable him to carry on fighting he clenched a stone tile to the wound. The Rattlebone Inn is named in his honour. In 1511 a great fire destroyed most of the village, until this time it had been a thriving small market town.
As one passes through the village, few would imagine the wealth of history, which lies behind these old stonewalls. Remains of 14th century fireplaces, underground tunnels zig zagging across the main street and the most obvious the Church of the Holy Cross. Originally built on the site of an earlier Saxon Church, nothing now remains of this except the weather beaten stone figure, which stands outside the porch. For local people this is an effigy of our hero John Rattlebone clutching a stone to his wound, but for others it is of a Clerical figure holding a Bible. The present Church was built between 1160-1170 and is of the Norman style.
Written by Cilla Liddington
Battle of Sherston re-enactment 2016
High Street c1890
Cliff Road (Back Street) c1890
Church of the Holy Cross c1890
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