Bareilly district is considered very rich from archaeological point of view. The extensive remains of Ahichhatra, the Capital town of Northern Panchala have been discovered near Ramnagar village of Aonla Tehsil in the district. Nearly five thousand coins belonging to periods earlier than that of Guptas have been yielded from Ahichhatra. On the basis of the existing material, the archaeology of the region helps us to get an idea of the cultural sequence from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC up to the 11th century AD. Some ancient mounds in the district have also been discovered by the Deptt. of Ancient History and culture, Rohilkhand University, at Tihar-Khera (Fatehganj West), Pachaumi, Rahtuia, Kadarganj and Senthal.
According to the epic Mahabharata, Bareilly region (Panchala) is said to be the birthplace of Draupadi. Also the folklore says that Gautama Buddha had once visited the ancient fortress city of Ahicchattra in Bareilly.
The Bareilly district showed active participation in the fight for independence of the nation. The Indian National Congress came into prominence in Bareilly during the Khilafat movement when Gandhiji visited this town twice and many Hindus and Muslims were arrested. In response to the call given by Gandhiji, the Civil Disobedience Movement in the district was launched on Jan 26,1930. In 1936, a conference of the Congress was held in Bareilly under the presidency of AcharyaNarendraDeo. It was addressed by Jawaharlal Nehru, M.N. Roy, Purushottam Das Tandon and Rafi Ahmad Kidwai.
In the Bareilly Central Jail at that time were confined such prominent leaders as JawaharLal Nehru. Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, MahavirTyagi, Manzar Ali Sokhata and MaulanaHifazulRahman.