Hilton History and Guide


alt The name HILTON, first recorded in 1014, apparently means "the village on the hill". However, only when approached from the south is it at all appropriate - though it might have seemed more so when a windmill stood on Mill Hill.

Hilton's position, about a mile from the Roman Ermine Street (A1198), is typical of many early villages. Near the road, the Saxons were too vulnerable to marauding invaders, so they preferred to settle in the woods a short distance away.

From the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, Hilton lay on an important route by which cattle were driven from St. Ives to London. The cattle fair at St. Ives was one of the four biggest in the country. Cattle were driven by drovers along 'driftways', wide grassy tracks with plenty of grazing and usually skirting the villages. The broad extension of the Mere Way, which connects with the bridle path north of the Graveley Way, is a typical driftway and is still known as The Drift.

In those days the route from St. Ives to Papworth Everard meandered through a network of minor lanes. Today the main Potton Road (B1040) cuts directly and more or less straight through the village.