Although there is evidence of human activity in Wakefield since prehistoric times there is little to show that people actually settled here. Flint and stone tools have been found, as well as later bronze and iron implements.
The Brigante tribe controlled much of the West Riding area until the Romans took over in 43 AD. The Romans concentrated their presence around Castleford.
Wakefield itself was probably not permanently settled until the Germanic tribe, the Angles sailed up the Calder and decided to make it their home sometime in the 5th – 6th century AD. It is believed that the name Wakefield has origins in the Anglo-Saxon, Waca’s Feld or Wacanfeld, meaning the field belonging to Waca.
In 867 the Vikings took control of York and divided the area into ‘wapentakes’. Wakefield became part of the Wapentake of Agbrigg. A local court met somewhere near Heath Common although the rest of the settlement developed around the three roads that became known as Westgate, Northgate and Kirkgate ('gate' comes from the Viking word for 'road'). Here in the centre of the settlement was the first church to be built in the town, a small, probably wooden, building dedicated to All Hallows.
It seems to have become quite a rich town and there are claims that it may have been the capital of the West Riding.