Unlike almost every other city in the UK, Leicester has retained a remarkable record of its past in buildings that still stand today. Ancient Roman pavements and baths remain in Leicester from its early settlement as Ratae Corieltauvorum, a Roman military outpost in a region inhabited by the Celtic Corieltauvi tribe. Following the demise of Roman society the early medieval Ratae Corieltauvorum is shrouded in obscurity, but when the settlement was captured by the Danes it became one of five fortified towns important to the Danelaw.
The name “Leicester” is thought to derive from the words castra of the “Ligore”, meaning camp of the dwellers on the river Legro. Leicester appears in the Domesday Book as “Ledecestre”. Leicester continued to grow throughout the Early Modern period as a market town, although it was the Industrial Revolution that facilitated a process of rapid urbanisation in the area.
A newly constructed rail and canal network routed through the area stimulated industrial growth in the 19th century, and Leicester became a major economic centre with a variety of manufacturers engaged in engineering, shoemaking and hosiery production. The economic success of these industries, and businesses ancillary to them, resulted in significant urban expansion into the surrounding countryside.
Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England, it was the centre of the bishopric from around 670, endowing it with city status. However, it lost city status in the 11th century during a time of struggle between the church and the aristocracy. The boundaries of Leicester were extended several times in the 19th and 20th centuries; it became a county borough in 1889, and was re-granted city status in 1919.