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 town of Bolton has a population of 139,403, whilst the wider metropolitan borough has a population of 262,400. Historically part of Lancashire, Bolton originated as a small settlement in the moorland known as Bolton le Moors. In the English Civil War, the town was a Parliamentarian outpost in a staunchly Royalist region, and as a result was stormed by 3,000 Royalist troops led by Prince Rupert of the Rhine in 1644. In what became known as the Bolton Massacre, 1,600 residents were killed and 700 were taken prisoner.
Bolton Wanderers football club play home games at the Macron Stadium and the WBA World light-welterweight champion Amir Khan was born in the town. Cultural interests include the Octagon Theatre and the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, as well as one of the earliest public libraries established after the Public Libraries Act 1850.
Bolton is a common Northern English name derived from the Old English bothl-tun, meaning a settlement with a dwelling. The first recorded use of the name, in the form Boelton, dates from 1185 to describe Bolton le Moors, though this may not be in relation to a dwelling. It was recorded as Bothelton in 1212, Botelton in 1257, Boulton in 1288, and Bolton after 1307. Later forms of Botheltun were Bodeltown, Botheltun-le-Moors, Bowelton, Boltune, Bolton-super-Moras, Bolton-in-ye-Moors, Bolton-le-Moors. The town's motto of Supera Moras means "overcome difficulties" (or "delays"), and is a pun on the Bolton-super-Moras version of the name meaning literally, "Bolton on the moors".
There is evidence of human existence on the moors around Bolton since the early part of the Bronze Age, including a stone circle on Cheetham Close above Egerton, and Bronze Age burial mounds on Winter Hill. A Bronze Age mound was excavated in Victorian times outside Haulgh Hall. The Romans built roads from Manchester to Ribchester to the east and a road along what is now the A6 to the west. It is claimed that Agricola built a fort at Blackrod by clearing land above the forest. Evidence of a Saxon settlement exists in the form of religious objects found when the Victorian parish church was built.
In 1067 Great Bolton was the property of Roger de Poitou and after 1100, of Roger de Meresheys. It became the property of the Pilkingtons who forfeited it in the Civil War and after that the Stanleys who became Earls of Derby. Great Bolton and Little Bolton were part of the Marsey fee, in 1212 Little Bolton was held by Roger de Bolton as plough-land, by the service of the twelfth part of a knight's fee to Randle de Marsey. 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.