Clare before the Norman Conquest
In the period before 1066 little is known of Clare save indirectly. Roman relics, such as sepulchral urns and a small bronze figure of a dancing boy or Mercury, have been found near the Dancpits, and there is the site of a Roman camp on the north-east of the common. Although dwellings in Bridewell and Common Streets have encroached on the site, its main features can be traced. The camp of about two acres was roughly rectangular in shape, with a double vallurn and double fosse, and it has been assigned to the Romano— British period. Nothing further is known about it, but it is clear that its position was well chosen for defence, with a commanding view over the immediate neighbourhood.
During the Anglo-Saxon period Clare doubtless grcw in importance, situated as it was on the upper Stour River, on the border of the East Anglian kingdom. But we do not know the origin of its name, and we cannot speak definitely of its history until the eve of the Norman Conquest when the town was held by Aluric son of Wisgar. It is possible that Clare, already possessing a market, had some kind of defence works at this time. With the entry in Domcsday Book we have more precise information, and a part of the Survey may be quoted here
(At) CLARA (Clare) Aluric held as a manor 24 carucates of land in the time of King Edward. Then 40 villeins, afterwards 3S, 310W 30. Thcts and afterwards so bordars, now 30. Then as now 20 serfs. Then 12 ploughs on the demcsne, afterwards 6, 110W 7. Then 36 ploughs belonging to the men, afterwards 30, now 24. 37 acres of meadow. Woodland for 12 swine. Then as 11(1W 1 null. Now 5 arpents of vineyard.... Then as now a market. Now 43 burgesses. Aluric son of Wisgar gave this manor to Saint John in the time of King Edward... However, after King William came he seized it into his own hand....