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The mid 19th-century nickname "School Town" referred to the remarkable number of boarding, charity and church schools in the town at the time.

The first settlement in the Brighton area was Whitehawk Camp, a Neolithic encampment on Whitehawk Hill which has been dated to between 3500 BC and 2700 BC. Archaeologists have only partially explored it, but have found numerous burial mounds, tools and bones, suggesting it was a place of some importance. Brythonic Celts arrived in Britain in the 7th century BC, and an important Brythonic settlement existed at Hollingbury Camp on Hollingbury Hill.

The tūn element is common in Sussex, especially on the coast, although it occurs infrequently in combination with a personal name.

An alternative etymology taken from the Old English words for "stony valley" is sometimes given but has less acceptance.

Later, there was a Roman villa at Preston Village, a Roman road from London ran nearby, and much physical evidence of Roman occupation has been discovered locally.

From the 1st century AD, the Romans built a number of villas in Brighton and Romano-British Brythonic Celts formed farming settlements in the area.

Brighton began to attract more visitors following improved road transport to London and becoming a boarding point for boats travelling to France.

"London-by-Sea" is well-known, reflecting Brighton's popularity with Londoners as a day-trip resort, a commuter dormitory and a desirable destination for those wanting to move out of the metropolis.

"The Queen of Slaughtering Places", a pun on Smith's description, became popular when the Brighton trunk murders came to the public's attention in the 1930s.

Brighton attracted 7.5 million day visitors in 2015/16 and 4.9 million overnight visitors, and is the most popular seaside destination in the UK for overseas tourists.

Brighton has also been called the UK's "hippest city", and "the happiest place to live in the UK".

After the Romans left in the early 4th century AD, the Brighton area returned to the control of the native Celts.

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