Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 1,346 square miles. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Until 1930 the county town was Wilton but Wiltshire Council is now based at Trowbridge.
The drive to bath is through some of the most stunning countryside and country roads. The vies alone make this location worth a visit. On entering Bath however it was difficult to find a place to park, the roads were very congested and people refused to give way aimlessly walking toward and in to you. Saying all that sounds bad, its just a very busy place, with many wonderful tourist attractions all in a very small area.
Wiltshire is characterised by its high downland and wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is famous as the location of the Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks, and as a training area for the British Army. The city of Salisbury is notable for its mediaeval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, and the National Trust’s Stourhead, near Mere.
Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology. The Mesolithic, Neolithicand Bronze Age people that occupied southern Britain built settlements on the hills and downland that cover Wiltshire. Stonehenge and Avebury are perhaps the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK.
In the 6th and 7th centuries Wiltshire was at the western edge of Saxon Britain, as Cranborne Chase and the Somerset Levels prevented the advance to the west. The Battle of Bedwyn was fought in 675 between Escuin, a West Saxon nobleman who had seized the throne of Queen Saxburga, and King Wulfhere of Mercia. In 878 the Danes invaded the county. Following the Norman Conquest, large areas of the country came into the possession of the crown and the church.
In the 17th century English Civil War Wiltshire was largely Parliamentarian. The Battle of Roundway Down, a decisive Royalist victory, was fought near Devizes.
In 1794 it was decided at a meeting at the Bear Inn in Devizes to raise a body of ten independent troops of Yeomanry for the county of Wiltshire, which formed the basis for what would become the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, who served with distinction both at home and abroad, during the Boer War, World War I and World War II. The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry currently lives on as A (RWY) Squadron of the Royal Yeomanry, based in Swindon, and B (RWY) Squadron of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, based in Salisbury.
Around 1800 the Kennet and Avon Canal was built through Wiltshire providing a route for transporting cargoes from Bristol to London until the development of the Great Western Railway.
Information on the 261 civil parishes of Wiltshire is available on the Wiltshire Community History website, run by the Libraries and Heritage services of Wiltshire County Council. This site includes maps, demographic data, historic and modern pictures and short histories.
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