Historically a part of Lancashire, Burnden derives its name from two Old English words. The first part "burn" means a stream or a brook and is more popularly used in the Scottish Lowlands. The second part "dene" or "denu" means a valley. Combined together they mean a brook flowing through a valley. Burnden Brook was a small tributary of the River Croal, but has since been culverted and now runs beneath Manchester Road.
For just over a hundred years Burnden was the site of Burnden Park, the home of Bolton Wanderers. The area was described as a ghost town after the stadium, the Normid superstore and the greyhound track closed in quick succession in the late 1990s.