The urban area of Norwich had a population of 213,166 according to the 2011 Census. This area extends beyond the city boundary, with extensive suburban areas on the western, northern and eastern sides, including Costessey, Taverham, Hellesdon, Bowthorpe, Old Catton, Sprowston and Thorpe St Andrew. The parliamentary seats cross over into adjacent local-government districts. A total of 132,512 (2011 census) people live in the City of Norwich and the population of the Norwich Travel to Work Area (i.e., the self-contained labour market area in and around Norwich in which most people live and commute to work) is 282,000 (mid-2009 estimate). Norwich is the fourth most densely populated local-government district in the East of England, with 3,480 people per square kilometre (8,993 per square mile).
The capital of the Iceni tribe was a settlement located near to the village of Caistor St. Edmund on the River Tas approximately 8 kilometres (5 mi) to the south of modern-day Norwich. Following an uprising led by Boudica around AD 60 the Caistor area became the Roman capital of East Anglia named Venta Icenorum, literally "the marketplace of the Iceni". The Roman settlement fell into disuse around 450 and the Anglo-Saxons settled on the site of the modern city between the 5th and 7th centuries, founding the towns of Northwic (from which Norwich gets its name), Westwic (at Norwich-over-the-Water) and the secondary settlement at Thorpe. According to a local rhyme, the demise of Venta Icenorum led to the development of Norwich: "Caistor was a city when Norwich was none, Norwich was built of Caistor stone."
There are two suggested models of development for Norwich. It is possible that three separate early Anglo-Saxon settlements, one on the north of the river and two either side on the south, joined together as they grew or that one Anglo-Saxon settlement, on the north of the river, emerged in the mid-7th century after the abandonment of the previous three. The ancient city was a thriving centre for trade and commerce in East Anglia in 1004 when it was raided and burnt by Swein Forkbeard the Viking king of Denmark. Mercian coins and shards of pottery from the Rhineland dating from the 8th century suggest that long-distance trade was happening long before this. Between 924 and 939, Norwich became fully established as a town, with its own mint. The word Norvic appears on coins across Europe minted during this period, in the reign of King Athelstan. The Vikings were a strong cultural influence in Norwich for 40 to 50 years at the end of the 9th century, setting up an Anglo-Scandinavian district near the north end of present day King Street. At the time of the Norman Conquest the city was one of the largest in England. The Domesday Book states that it had approximately 25 churches and a population of between 5,000 and 10,000. It also records the site of an Anglo-Saxon church in Tombland, the site of the Saxon market place and the later Norman cathedral. Norwich continued to be a major centre for trade, the River Wensum being a convenient export route to the River Yare and Great Yarmouth, which served as the port for Norwich. Quern stones and other artefacts from Scandinavia and the Rhineland have been found during excavations in Norwich city centre. These date from the 11th century onwards.
Norwich Castle was founded soon after the Norman Conquest. The Domesday Book records that 98 Saxon homes were demolished to make way for the castle. The Normans established a new focus of settlement around the Castle and the area to the west of it: this became known as the "New" or "French" borough, centred on the Normans' own market place which survives to the present day as Norwich Market. In 1096, Herbert de Losinga, Bishop of Thetford, began construction of Norwich Cathedral. The chief building material for the Cathedral was limestone, imported from Caen in Normandy. To transport the building stone to the site, a canal was cut from the river (from the site of present-day Pulls Ferry), all the way up to the east wall. Herbert de Losinga then moved his See there to what became the cathedral church for the Diocese of Norwich. The Bishop of Norwich still signs himself Norvic. Norwich received a royal charter from Henry II in 1158, and another one from Richard the Lionheart in 1194. Following a riot in the city in 1274, Norwich has the distinction of being the only complete English city to be excommunicated by the Pope.