History of Slough, Berkshire

Most people who visit the UK, and the Berkshire area, presume Slough is a modern town. However, the history of Slough goes back to ancient times. A few scholars of British history even believe the origins of Slough, in the County of Royal Berkshire, can be traced back to before King Arthur and Merlin roamed this ancient land.

Change of counties

When it comes to the name and location of Slough, there is a lot of confusion. Originally, Slough formed part of the English county of Buckinghamshire. The county line was moved in 1974 and the town became part of Berkshire.

What does ‘Slough’ mean?

The original name of the town was probably ‘Slo’, which means soil in Old English. But there are records that dispute that fact. According to folklore, Slough may have originally been called Upton. The name Slo first surfaced back in 1195 but up until then, the area was probably called something else. But maybe the name is instead associated with Sloe berries that still grow in the area. With Sloe gin being an ancient English tipple – why not?

One thing is for sure: ancient Slo, or Upton, stood directly on the crossroads of ancient Britain. From this part of the UK, you could travel to all parts of the Kingdom or kingdoms. You could travel to Wales, Scotland and Cornwall from old Slo, or Upton. There is little wonder Slough is associated with ancient British history.

Slough as a rural area

Thanks to its presence close to the River Thames, the land surrounding Slough has always been fertile. Evidence of farming going back many centuries have been found in the local area.

We know that stagecoaches often travelled through Slough on their way to other destinations on the UK mainland. That was back in the mid 17th-century.

After that, it would seem Slough started to grow in size. If you lived in an overcrowded London, the new emerging town was a popular place to move to if you wanted to start a business or settle down with your family.

Slough as a melting pot

Today, Slough is one of the most ethnically diverse places outside of London. Is this something new?

It would appear not. From what we can tell, various ethnic minorities have settled in the area since early times. Open up a telephone directory, and you will come across surnames sounding both Norman and from further afield. The families who live in the area can often trace their origins back many hundreds of years. The Romans settled in the area and the Vikings seem to have appreciated its proximity to water. That would explain why interesting surnames are found in the local area.

Looking more closely at the history of Slough, it is hard to say when the area was acknowledged as an independent area, or town. Many of Britain’s ancient scribes refer to the crossroads near Upton. If that is the case, we are talking of a place which may have a history going back thousands of years.

As a matter of fact, Salt Hill is an ancient grave according to research carried out by the University of Reading. Take a closer look at Salt Hill, and you will find that it looks similar to the burial mounds which you will find on Salisbury Plain or in Wales.