Thorne became a permanent settlement in the Anglo-Saxon period about thirteen centuries ago, but we know from the finds of flint tools and weapons that Neolithic people used this land; as also did the people from the Bronze and Iron ages from finds still been found in the peat diggings on the moors, that people from the bronze and iron age also used the land. Ever since then the population has grown, changing and evolving from year to year into the environment that we recognise today.
Our Anglo-Saxon forbears were originally pagans but around the seventh and eighth centuries Christianity became the commonly accepted religion of the local people and a wooden church was built in Hatfield. The Viking age of the ninth and tenth centuries brought a temporary return of paganism to parts of this area. Thorne, being in the area of the Danelaw, would see the merging of the Anglo-Saxon and Viking cultures in a melting pot lasting for over two hundred years. At the end of this time Christianity had triumphed and such settlements as Thorne had made good progress in opening up the land for agricultural purposes along the ridge on which Thorne stands.
In 1263 the Manor of Thorne was seized into the King's hands, and early in the 14th century William Gumbald held the land. During the first years of Edward III's reign, John de Mowbray was in temporary possession, but the manor reverted back to the Warrenns. In 1335 John de Warrenn granted 30 acres of cornland at Thorne to Robert Browne at 10 shillings a year rent.
In the reign of Richard II the Poll Tax gives us an idea of the population. We can tell that there were 172 people above the age of 16, of whom one mercer and one chapman both paid twelve pence, one taylor six pence and all the rest, both men and women at four pence. This figure would put the total at about 200 people which is not small when considering the extreme isolation of the place at that time.
During the sixteenth century the castle at Thorne was used as a prison for offenders of the law against poaching the royal game. Prisoners were then taken to York for trial. The area must have contained quite vast numbers of deer, for as late 1609 several hundred were rounded up near Tudworth for the pleasure of Prince Henry, eldest son of James I; who had been urged to see the game by Sir Robin Portington, Chief Regarder of Thorne who lived at Tudworth Hall.
In the middle of the nineteenth century the railways came to Thorne, making travel and the transport of goods quicker than ever. The mail coaches became obsolete and stage coaches no longer carried people from Doncaster. The river trade also began to die with the new railways.
Schools were built and the town council began running the affairs of the town instead of the Churchwardens and the Overseers of the Poor; there was still an active Poor house or Workhouse well into the 20th century, standing on the site of the first one built in 1763.
The opening of Thorne Colliery brought an influx of people from several parts of Britain and Moorends village was built to house them. Between the wars parts of the old town fields were taken up by the building of council estates, such as that of the Willow Estate and the estates adjacent to North Eastern Road.