The city is known worldwide as the home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Buildings in Oxford demonstrate notable examples of every English architectural period since the late Saxon period. Oxford is known as the "city of dreaming spires", a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold. Oxford has a broad economic base. Its industries include motor manufacturing, education, publishing and a large number of information technology and science-based businesses, some being academic offshoots.
Oxford was first settled in Anglo-Saxon times and was initially known as "Oxenaforda", meaning "Ford of the Oxen" (according to the English Place-Name Society, who base their result on a passing reference in Florence of Worcester's work Chronicon ex chronicis); fords were more common than bridges at that time. It began with the establishment of a river crossing for oxen around AD 900.
In the 10th century, Oxford became an important military frontier town between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex and was on several occasions raided by Danes. In 1002, many Danes were killed in Oxford during the England-wide St. Brice's Day massacre, a killing of Danes ordered by King Æthelred the Unready. The skeletons of more than 30 suspected victims were unearthed in 2008 during the course of building work at St John's College, Oxford. The ‘massacre’ was a contributing factor to King Sweyn I of Denmark’s invasion of England in 1003 and the sacking of Oxford by the Danes in 1004.
Oxford was heavily damaged during the Norman Invasion of 1066. Following the conquest, the town was assigned to a governor, Robert D'Oyly, who ordered the construction of Oxford Castle to confirm Norman authority over the area. The castle has never been used for military purposes and its remains survive to this day. D'Oyly set up a monastic community in the castle consisting of a chapel and living quarters for monks (St George in the Castle). The community never grew large but it earned its place in history as one of Britain's oldest places of formal education. It was there that in 1139 Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his History of the Kings of Britain, a compilation of Arthurian legends.
In 1191, a city charter stated in Latin,