The bustling market town of Northallerton, with its fine and wide High Street, is steeped in history. There is evidence of a Roman settlement, possibly a fort, and the first church was built in the 7th century by St Paulinus of York on the site of the present Saxon Church, All Saints.

Nearby, King Alfred fought a number of battles against the Danes. But insurgents eventually succeeded to settle in Romanby and Brompton, leaving behind a fine example of stone carving from the period, the Brompton Hogbacks, which can be seen in Brompton parish church.

Northallerton became the market centre for the area and drovers regularly brought in sheep and cattle from Northumbria and Scotland. Until the early part of the last century, sheep were still sold on the High Street.

Its location next to the Great North Road gave Northallerton increased importance during the golden age of coaching and no fewer than four coaching inns lined the High Street, offering much-needed refreshment to weary travellers as well as a livery service for exhausted horses.

They are still thriving and the grandiose Golden Lion Hotel acts as an ornate reminder of those halcyon days.

In 1841 the railway arrived. With it came the London-to-Edinburgh line which ensured the town’s continued importance as a communications hub.

In less peaceful times Northallerton’s position on the major north – south route brought death and destruction to the town on a number of occasions. In 1069, in an attempt to quell rebellion in the North, the area between the Ouse and the Tyne was laid to waste by the armies of William the Conqueror.

Northallerton was almost completely destroyed and a few years later the Domesday Book described it as “modo est in manu regis et wastum est” (put down as waste).

But its folk were resilient and Northallerton was to recover strongly, becoming home to an Episcopal summer palace belonging to the Prince Bishops of Durham.

The palace became an important administrative centre for the bishop’s lands in Yorkshire and served as a major residence. Being on the main road from York to Durham it was also a regular stop-ff for royalty. Today the site is home to Northallerton’s cemetery.

The town’s most famous event in history took place a 100 years later when, in 1138, English forces repelled a Scottish army at nearby Cowdon Moor.

The Battle of the Standard was the first major fracas between the Scots and the English since the Norman invasion and one of the two major battles in the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda.

English forces had been summoned by Archbishop Thurstan of York. His army marched forward around a chariot bearing a ship’s mast, from which flew the consecrated banners of St Peter of York, St John of Beverley, St Wilfrid of Ripon and St Cuthbert of Durham. It gave the battle its name.

The Scots were led by King David I who had entered England in support of his niece, Matilda, who was considered the rightful heiress to the English throne rather than the usurper Stephen.

While Stephen fought rebels in the south, the Scots took advantage and swept through the north.

At Northallerton David found the English in a defended position. With superior numbers he decided to fight. Repeated attacks failed and the famed English archers eventually triumphed; accounting for 16,000 Scots. The victory was to ensure the safety of northern England.

Today a memorial stands on the Brompton Road site and in town the Standard Inn’s sign continues to fly the flag as a reminder.

But landlord Paul Greig also has an interest in another form of military history – RAF planes. So keen is Mr Greig and his consortium of regulars that they recently bought a 1960s Jet Provost training aircraft on the internet auction site eBay.

The jet once flew from nearby RAF Linton-on- Ouse and now is firmly ensconced as the star attraction in the pub’s beer garden. Mr Greig and his team are busy restoring the aircraft to its former glory.

Near the 19th century cross in the market place is one of the town’s oldest inns, The Fleece. Its stunning timber gables and great oak beams have welcomed travellers for centuries, including Charles Dickens.

Northallerton College, which was formerly the grammar school, dates from 1323. Look carefully and you will see parts of the old school building near the church.

One famous Old Boy was John Radcliffe who, in the 17th century, was physician to William of Orange and founder of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

When the Poor Law Union system was introduced, a workhouse was established to serve the three parishes in the area. It is now part of the Friarage Hospital.

Today, Northallerton is a mixture of light industry and commerce. This is a wealthy part of the country and old money abounds.

But following the 1974 local reforms, North Yorkshire County Council and Hambleton District Council were formed and based in the town. Also at nearby at Newby Wiske are the police headquarters.

The hundreds of professionals that moved in to take up the new jobs made Northallerton an attractive proposition for upmarket shops such as Fired Earth, normally associated with larger towns.

It hasn't lost its importance as a market town.

Alongside the regular livestock auction, market days are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays when both sides of the High Street are lined with traders from far and wide.

Despite its diminutive size, Northallerton is home to a thriving community of retailers; from butchers, bakers and greengrocers to supermarkets.

The High Street even has room for two department stores, Barkers and Lewis & Cooper.

Bettys, the famous Yorkshire tearoom chain, also has an outlet there.

The credit crunch will have hit North Yorkshire’s county town but it still seems in fine fettle and, with its diverse employment base and retail outlets, Northallerton looks set fair to weather the storm.

After all, it has faced sterner challenges during its long and illustrious history.