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A Bronze Age mound was excavated in Victorian times outside Haulgh Hall.
A tradition of cottage spinning and weaving and improvements to spinning technology by local inventors, Richard Arkwright and Samuel Crompton, led to rapid growth of the textile industry in the 19th century.The mule revolutionised cotton spinning by combining the roller drafting of Arkwright's water frame with the carriage drafting and spindle tip twisting of James Hargreaves's spinning jenny, producing a high quality yarn.Self-acting mules were used in Bolton mills until the 1960s producing fine yarn.A former mill town, Bolton has been a production centre for textiles since Flemish weavers settled in the area in the 14th century, introducing a wool and cotton-weaving tradition.The urbanisation and development of the town largely coincided with the introduction of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.The attack became known as the Bolton Massacre in which 1,500 died, 700 were taken prisoner and the town plundered.
At the end of the Civil War Lord Derby was tried as a traitor at Chester and condemned to death.
Close to the West Pennine Moors, Bolton is 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Manchester.
It is surrounded by several smaller towns and villages that together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, of which Bolton is the administrative centre.
The parish church in Bolton has an early foundation although the exact date is unknown; it was given by the lord of the manor to the Gilbertine canons of Mattersey Priory in Nottinghamshire, founded by Roger de Marsey.
Bolton became a market town and borough by a charter from the Earl of Derby, William de Ferrers, on 14 January 1253, and a market was held until the 18th century.
Bolton was a 19th-century boomtown, and at its zenith in 1929 its 216 cotton mills and 26 bleaching and dyeing works made it one of the largest and most productive centres of cotton spinning in the world.