Possibly named after ‘Merle Barrow’ said to be the burial site of Merlin, magician to King Arthur. The barrow is now located in the grounds of Marlborough College.
Nearby are neolithic, bronze and iron age settlements, Avebury being the best known, and the important Roman settlement of Cunetio at the junction of the London to Bath and Winchester to Cirencester roads.
The present town developed in both Saxon and Norman times and boasts one of the widest High Streets in the country – its unified character arising from its rebuilding in 1653 following the great fire.
The town has an excellent selection of shops, pubs and cafes in the High Street and the various fascinating back alleys and small courtyards with medieval timber framed houses which escaped the great fire.
Cardinal Wolsey was ordained as a priest in St.Peters Church in 1498.