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I am sure many people are wondering "Why is Leicester called Leicester?". I have to admit, before I researched this article, I had absolutely no idea either! So, your not the only one! 

To explain why Leicester is called Leicester, we must take ourselves back 2000 years to the Roman occupation of Britain. Leicester was, before the Roman annexation, the capital of the Coritani, a Celtic tribe who lived in this area. After the Roman captured the town, it became known as "Ratae Coritanorum", basically meaning: "the ramparts of the Coritani". Leicester thieved as a town, being on two of the most important routes leading to the north (Watling Street and the Fosse Way). But then in AD 410, the Romans withdrew from Britain. 

By 753, the town was no longer known as Ratae but as Legro Ceaster (the former roman camp of the River Legro [now known as the Soar]). Only 50 years later, its name changes again. This time to Legorensis Civitatis. 

Just over a century later, it changes yet again to Legra Ceaster. Another century later, its same is Ledecestre. This is the closest to the modern form and also the form recorded in the Doomsday Book.

So that's how Ratae became Leicester in the space of 1000 years. Please visit our place names page to learn the meanings of other place names in Leicestershire.

Thomas J. Williams