The origins of Canet lo Roig date back to stages of the history before the Arabic settlement. Ceramics, belonging to a village of the final stage of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iberian culture, has been gathered from some excavations. Therefore, we can state that in the high part of the hill, there was a village of the final Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age that will be remained there until the Romanization, that is, until the end of the III century BC.
An irreversible social and structural change was generated with the Romanization. The population of the first village, who traditionally lived from the ranching and the cereal farming, will learn from the Romans new agricultural techniques and other production systems (irrigation, horticulture, fruit trees, villas, etc.) that will encourage them to leave the hill and settle in the flat and fertile lands beside the rivers where they will be able to develop a more capable economy.
We have numerous archaeological evidences of this fact spread over the vineyards (Plà dels Vinyets) and the Roca’s fountain (La Font de la Roca) as well as over the surroundings of the Vilagròs’ fountain (La Font del Vilagròs). These evidences are remains of the Iberian culture which was developed under the influence of the knights or Roman landowners who harvested their vineyards and founded their farms in the previously mentioned places.
There have been found gravestones and Iberian monuments, interesting documents which talk about indigenous figures (maybe leaders or simply rich landowners) who should have enjoyed great social category. Furthermore, these gravestones show that the writing was known, something which was not frequent among the tribes that lived in this region in that period of time. The Hispano-Romans continued populating these places until the arrival of the Arabs in the VII century.
If we analyse more deeply the origin of the name of Canet lo Roig, we find that the place name of Canet is repeated several times in territories that in the antiquity were unified under the same language and culture, the Iberian one, without having any trace in other areas. The place name of Canet seems to refer to high places like hills that stand out above their surroundings. In addition, for the Basque people, the KAN or CAN base refers to words whose meanings are height or summit. Therefore, it should be possible to note that the place name of Canet should be an archaic Iberian word whose meaning should have been something like high place. With regard to lo Roig, we can state that it refers to a subsequent addition which was first documented in Escolano, back in 1611. In 1795, Cavanilles wrote Canet lo Roxo, “perque la tierra es roxiza y para distinguirlo del que está enfrente de Murviedro”.
In the XIII century with the Reconquest, this area became the frontier between Christians and Muslims, and, as a consequence, it turned out to be the area of disputes and conflicts. The Hospitallers of the Order of Saint John acquired, by donation of Jaime I, the castle of Cervera del Maestre and all its territories, including the territory of Canet. Consequently, they decided to build a fortress-church at the top of the hill, on the ancient village. As well as their primitive settlers, they naturally chose the height due to its strategic location. According to Viciana, this fortress-church was founded in 1288 with the permission given by Guillén de Monsorín, commander of Cervera. By doing this and after 1500 years when the hill was abandoned by its ancient inhabitants to settle in the flat lands, the hill started again to develop.
In this way, Canet lo Roig was founded, grew and evolved. This could be named new or modern stage thorough which the village has come down to us today. Canet was the domain of the Order of Montesa from the beginning of the XIV century until the XIX century. In 1540, the last Grand Master of the Order, Francesc Llançol, turned Canet lo Roig into an independent village.