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WILTSHIRE (/ˈwɪltʃər/ or /-tʃɪər/ ) is a county in South West England
England
with an area of 3,485 km2 (1,346 square miles). It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset
Dorset
, Somerset
Somerset
, Hampshire
Hampshire
, Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
, Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
and Berkshire
Berkshire
. The county town was originally Wilton , after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge
Trowbridge
.

Wiltshire
Wiltshire
is characterised by its high downland and wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being the location of the Stonehenge
Stonehenge
and Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks, and as a training area for the British Army
British Army
. The city of Salisbury
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 .

CONTENTS

* 1 Toponymy * 2 History * 3 Geology, landscape and ecology * 4 Climate * 5 Economy * 6 Government and infrastructure * 7 Education * 8 Demographics

* 9 Politics and administration

* 9.1 Westminster Parliamentary * 9.2 Council

* 10 Sport * 11 Principal settlements * 12 Places of interest

* 13 Transport

* 13.1 Road * 13.2 Navigable inland waterways * 13.3 Canals subject to restoration * 13.4 Rail * 13.5 Air

* 14 See also * 15 References and footnotes * 16 External links

TOPONYMY

The county, in the 9th century written as _Wiltunscir_, later _Wiltonshire_, is named after the former county town of Wilton .

HISTORY

Main article: History of Wiltshire Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Wiltshire
Wiltshire
is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology . The Mesolithic , Neolithic
Neolithic
and Bronze Age
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
Neolithic
sites in the UK.

In the 6th and 7th centuries Wiltshire
Wiltshire
was at the western edge of Saxon Britain, as Cranborne Chase and the Somerset
Somerset
Levels prevented the advance to the west. The Battle of Bedwyn
Bedwyn
was fought in 675 between Escuin , a West Saxon nobleman who had seized the throne of Queen Saxburga , and King Wulfhere of Mercia
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.

At the time of the Domesday Survey the industry of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
was largely agricultural; 390 mills are mentioned, and vineyards at Tollard and Lacock. In the succeeding centuries sheep-farming was vigorously pursued, and the Cistercian monastery of Stanley exported wool to the Florentine and Flemish markets in the 13th and 14th centuries.

In the 17th century English Civil War Wiltshire
Wiltshire
was largely Parliamentarian . The Battle of Roundway Down , a Royalist victory, was fought near Devizes
Devizes
.

In 1794 it was decided at a meeting at the Bear Inn in Devizes
Devizes
to raise a body of ten independent troops of Yeomanry
Yeomanry
for the county of Wiltshire, which formed the basis for what would become the Royal Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Yeomanry
Yeomanry
, who served with distinction both at home and abroad, during the Boer War , World War I
World War I
and World War II
World War II
. The Royal Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Yeomanry
Yeomanry
currently lives on as Y (RWY) Squadron, based in Swindon, and B (RWY) Squadron, based in Salisbury, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry
Yeomanry
.

Around 1800 the Kennet and Avon Canal was built through Wiltshire, providing a route for transporting cargoes from Bristol
Bristol
to London until the development of the Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
.

Information on the 261 civil parishes of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
is available on Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Council's Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Community History website which has maps, demographic data, historic and modern pictures and short histories.

The local nickname for Wiltshire
Wiltshire
natives is " Moonrakers ". This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise
Excise
men by hiding their alcohol, possibly French brandy in barrels or kegs, in a village pond. When confronted by the excise men they raked the surface to conceal the submerged contraband with ripples, and claimed that they were trying to rake in a large round cheese visible in the pond, really a reflection of the full moon. The officials took them for simple yokels or mad and left them alone, allowing them to continue with their illegal activities. Many villages claim the tale for their own village pond, but the story is most commonly linked with The Crammer in Devizes
Devizes
.

GEOLOGY, LANDSCAPE AND ECOLOGY

Cherhill White Horse , east of Calne
Calne

Two-thirds of Wiltshire, a mostly rural county, lies on chalk , a kind of soft, white, porous limestone that is resistant to erosion, giving it a high chalk downland landscape. This chalk is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk
Chalk
Group and stretching from the Dorset Downs in the west to Dover
Dover
in the east. The largest area of chalk in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
is Salisbury Plain , which is used mainly for arable agriculture and by the British Army
British Army
as training ranges. The highest point in the county is the Tan Hill – Milk Hill ridge in the Pewsey Vale , just to the north of Salisbury
Salisbury
Plain, at 295 m (968 ft) above sea level.

The chalk uplands run northeast into West Berkshire
Berkshire
in the Marlborough Downs ridge, and southwest into Dorset
Dorset
as Cranborne Chase . Cranborne Chase, which straddles the border, has, like Salisbury Plain, yielded much Stone Age and Bronze Age
Bronze Age
archaeology . The Marlborough Downs are part of the North Wessex
Wessex
Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), a 1,730 km2 (670-square-mile) conservation area.

In the northwest of the county, on the border with South Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
and Bath and North East Somerset
Somerset
, the underlying rock is the resistant oolite limestone of the Cotswolds . Part of the Cotswolds AONB is also in Wiltshire, in the county's northwestern corner.

Between the areas of chalk and limestone downland are clay valleys and vales . The largest of these vales is the Avon Vale . The Avon cuts diagonally through the north of the county, flowing through Bradford-on-Avon and into Bath and Bristol
Bristol
. The Vale of Pewsey has been cut through the chalk into Greensand and Oxford Clay
Clay
in the centre of the county. In the south west of the county is the Vale of Wardour . The southeast of the county lies on the sandy soils of the northernmost area of the New Forest
New Forest
.

Chalk
Chalk
is a porous rock, so the chalk hills have little surface water. The main settlements in the county are therefore situated at wet points. Notably, Salisbury
Salisbury
is situated between the chalk of Salisbury Plain and marshy flood plains. See also: List of hills of Wiltshire

CLIMATE

Along with the rest of South West England
England
, Wiltshire
Wiltshire
has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country. The annual mean temperature is approximately 10 °C (50.0 °F). Seasonal temperature variation is less extreme than most of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
because of the adjacent sea temperatures. The summer months of July and August are the warmest with mean daily maxima of approximately 21 °C (69.8 °F). In winter mean minimum temperatures of 1 °C (33.8 °F) or 2 °C (35.6 °F) are common. In the summer the Azores
Azores
high pressure affects the south-west of England, however convective cloud sometimes forms inland, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. Annual sunshine rates are slightly less than the regional average of 1,600 hours. In December 1998 there were 20 days without sun recorded at Yeovilton. Most of the rainfall in the south-west is caused by Atlantic depressions or by convection . Most of the rainfall in autumn and winter is caused by the Atlantic depressions, which is when they are most active. In summer, a large proportion of the rainfall is caused by sun heating the ground leading to convection and to showers and thunderstorms. Average rainfall is around 700 mm (28 in). About 8–15 days of snowfall is typical. November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, and June to August have the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.

ECONOMY

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added (GVA) of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
at current basic prices with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

YEAR REGIONAL GROSS VALUE ADDED AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY SERVICES

1995 4,354 217 1,393 2,743

2000 5,362 148 1,566 3,647

2003 6,463 164 1,548 4,751

The Wiltshire
Wiltshire
economy benefits from the " M4 corridor effect", which attracts business, and the attractiveness of its countryside, towns and villages. The northern part of the county is richer than the southern part, particularly since Swindon
Swindon
is home to national and international corporations such as Honda
Honda
, Intel
Intel
, Motorola
Motorola
, Patheon , Catalent (formerly known as Cardinal Health ), Becton-Dickinson , WHSmith , Early Learning Centre and Nationwide , with Dyson located in nearby Malmesbury . Wiltshire’s employment structure is distinctive in having a significantly higher number of people in various forms of manufacturing (especially electrical equipment and apparatus, food products, and beverages, furniture, rubber, pharmaceuticals , and plastic goods) than the national average.

In addition, there is higher than average employment in public administration and defence , due to the military establishments around the county, particularly around Amesbury and Corsham
Corsham
. There are sizeable British Army
British Army
barracks at Tidworth , Bulford and Warminster . Further north RAF Lyneham was home to the RAF's Hercules C130 fleet until 2011; RAF operations ceased in late-2012 and a new Defence Technical Training College is currently being developed there. Wiltshire
Wiltshire
is also distinctive in having a high proportion of its working age population who are economically active – (86.6% in 1999–2000), and its low unemployment rates. The gross domestic product (GDP) level in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
did not reach the UK average in 1998, and was only marginally above the rate for South West England.

GOVERNMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Service Children\'s Education has its headquarters in Trenchard Lines in Upavon , Wiltshire.

EDUCATION

See also: List of schools in Wiltshire

Wiltshire
Wiltshire
has twenty-nine county secondary schools, publicly funded, of which the largest is Warminster Kingdown , and another thirteen independent secondaries, including Marlborough College , St Mary\'s Calne
Calne
, Dauntsey\'s near Devizes
Devizes
, and Warminster School . The county schools are nearly all comprehensives , with the older pattern of education surviving only in Salisbury
Salisbury
, which has two grammar schools ( South Wilts Grammar School for Girls and Bishop Wordsworth\'s School ) and three secondary moderns . All but two of the county secondary schools in the former districts of West Wiltshire and North Wiltshire have Sixth forms , but only half of those in the rest of the county.

There are three further education colleges, New College, Swindon , Wiltshire College and Swindon College , providing some higher education.

As yet there are no universities within Wiltshire, except that Bath Spa University has a centre at Corsham
Corsham
Court in Corsham
Corsham
, and Oxford Brookes University maintains a minor campus in Swindon
Swindon
(almost 50 km from Oxford). Outline plans for a projected University of Swindon
Swindon
or University of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
were announced by the Borough of Swindon in November 2008, but the scheme remains uncommitted. Swindon
Swindon
therefore remains the UK's largest centre of population without its own university. The closest university to Wiltshire's county town of Trowbridge
Trowbridge
is the University of Bath
University of Bath
. Wiltshire
Wiltshire
is therefore one of the few remaining English counties without a university or university college.

DEMOGRAPHICS

The county registered a population of 680,137 in the 2011 Census . Wiltshire
Wiltshire
(outside Swindon) has a low population density of 1.4 persons per hectare, when compared against 4.1 for England
England
as a whole.

WILTSHIRE SWINDON TOTAL

Usual resident population 470,981 209,156 680,137

Age 65 or over 18.1% 13.7% 16.8%

Density (persons per hectare) 1.4 9.1 2.0

Households 194,194 88,360 282,554

Historical population of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
county:

1801 1851 1901 1951 2001

185,107 254,221 271,394 386,692 613,024

POLITICS AND ADMINISTRATION

WESTMINSTER PARLIAMENTARY

Main article: List of Parliamentary constituencies in Wiltshire

OVERALL NUMBER OF SEATS AS OF 2015

CONSERVATIVE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS LABOUR UKIP GREEN OTHERS

7 0 0 0 0 0

COUNCIL

Main articles: Wiltshire Council , Wiltshire local elections , Swindon
Swindon
Borough Council , and Swindon
Swindon
local elections

The ceremonial county of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
consists of two unitary authority areas, Wiltshire
Wiltshire
and Swindon, governed respectively by Wiltshire Council and Swindon
Swindon
Borough Council .

Until the 2009 structural changes to local government in England
England
, Wiltshire
Wiltshire
(apart from Swindon) was a two-level county, divided into four local government districts, Kennet , North Wiltshire
North Wiltshire
, Salisbury and West Wiltshire , which existed alongside Wiltshire
Wiltshire
County Council , covering the same area and carrying out more strategic tasks, such as education and county roads. However, on 1 April 2009 these five local authorities were merged into a single unitary authority called Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Council. With the abolition of the District of Salisbury, a new Salisbury
Salisbury
City Council was created at the same time to carry out several citywide functions and to hold the City's charter.

As a result of elections held in 2017, Wiltshire Council comprises 68 Conservatives , 20 Liberal Democrats , seven Independents and three Labour members. The council is led by Jane Scott (Conservative), who had previously led the former Wiltshire County Council since 2003.

SPORT

The County Ground, Swindon
Swindon
is the home of Swindon
Swindon
Town , the only football league club in Wiltshire.

The county is represented in the Football League
Football League
by Swindon
Swindon
Town , who play at the County Ground stadium near Swindon
Swindon
town centre. They joined the Football League
Football League
on the creation of the Third Division in 1920, and have remained in the league ever since. Their most notable achievements include winning the Football League
Football League
Cup in 1969 and the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1970, two successive promotions in 1986 and 1987 (taking them from the Fourth Division to the Second ), promotion to the Premier League
Premier League
as Division One play-off winners in 1993 (as inaugural members), the Division Two title in 1996, and their promotion to League One in 2007 after finishing third in League Two .

After Salisbury
Salisbury
City went into liquidation in 2014, a new club, Salisbury
Salisbury
, was formed and plays in the Southern Premier League
Premier League
.

Wiltshire County Cricket Club play in the Minor Counties league.

Swindon
Swindon
Robins Speedway team, who compete in the top national division, the SGB Premiership , have been at their track at the Blunsdon Abbey Stadium near Swindon
Swindon
since 1949. Swindon
Swindon
Wildcats compete in the English Premier Ice Hockey League , the second tier of British ice hockey, and play their home games at Swindon's Link Centre .

PRINCIPAL SETTLEMENTS

See also: List of settlements in Wiltshire by population

Wiltshire
Wiltshire
has twenty-one towns and one city : A bridge over the River Avon at Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire
Wiltshire

* Amesbury * Bradford on Avon * Calne
Calne
* Chippenham * Corsham
Corsham
* Cricklade
Cricklade
* Devizes
Devizes
* Highworth (Borough of Swindon) * Larkhill * Ludgershall * Malmesbury * Marlborough * Melksham * Mere * Royal Wootton Bassett
Royal Wootton Bassett
* Salisbury
Salisbury
(city) * Swindon
Swindon
(Borough of Swindon) * Tidworth * Trowbridge
Trowbridge
* Warminster * Westbury * Wilton * Wroughton
Wroughton
(Borough of Swindon)

A list of settlements is at List of places in Wiltshire .

PLACES OF INTEREST

The flight of 16 locks at Caen Hill on the Kennet and Avon Canal

KEY

Abbey/Priory/Cathedral

Accessible open space

Amusement/Theme Park

Castle

Country Park

English Heritage

Forestry Commission

Heritage railway

Historic House

Museum (free/not free)

National Trust

Theatre

Zoo

Places of interest in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
include:

* Arc Theatre, part of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
College, Trowbridge
Trowbridge
Campus * Ashcombe House * Arch by Ismbard Kingdom Brunel GWML – Chippenham * Avebury , Neolithic
Neolithic
stone circle * Avebury Manor & Garden * Avon Valley
Valley
Path * Barbury Castle * Beckhampton Avenue * Bentley Wood * Biddestone * Bowood House * Butter cross – Chippenham * Burlington , city-sized nuclear bunker with accommodation for 4000 people * Caen Hill Locks , Devizes
Devizes
* Castle Combe
Castle Combe
* Castle Hill, Mere * Cherhill White Horse * Chisbury Chapel * Coate Water , East Swindon
Swindon
* Corsham
Corsham
Court * Cotswold Water Park * Courts Garden * Crofton Pumping Station * Edington Priory * Fonthill Abbey * Great Chalfield Manor * Iford Manor and gardens * Kennet & Avon Canal Museum , Devizes
Devizes
* King Alfred\'s Tower * Lacock Abbey * Littlecote House * Longleat Safari Park * Ludgershall Castle , Ludgershall * Lydiard Park & House , West Swindon. * Malmesbury Abbey * Maud Heath\'s Causeway * Mompesson House * Old Sarum , the former cathedral * Philipps House & Dinton Park * Richard Jefferies
Richard Jefferies
Birthplace and Museum (The Old House at Coate) * River Thames
River Thames
* Salisbury
Salisbury
Cathedral * Salisbury
Salisbury
and South Wiltshire Museum * The Science Museum at Wroughton
Wroughton
* Shearwater Lake * Silbury Hill
Silbury Hill
* Stonehenge
Stonehenge
* Stourhead * Swindon
Swindon
and Cricklade
Cricklade
Railway * Swindon
Swindon
Steam Railway Museum * Trafalgar House * Wardour Castle
Wardour Castle
* West Kennet Long Barrow * Westbury White Horse * Westwood Manor * Woodhenge * Wilton House * Wilton Windmill * Wilts and Berks Canal * Wiltshire Museum * Win Green Down * Wroughton
Wroughton

Areas of countryside in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
include:

* Cranborne Chase * Marlborough Downs * Salisbury Plain * Vale of Pewsey

TRANSPORT

ROAD

Roads running through Wiltshire
Wiltshire
include The Ridgeway , an ancient route, and Roman roads the Fosse Way
Fosse Way
, London to Bath road and Ermin Way . National Cycle Route 4 and the Thames Path
Thames Path
, a modern long distance footpath , run through the county.

Routes through Wiltshire
Wiltshire
include:

* A4 road * M4 motorway
M4 motorway
/ M4 Corridor * A303 trunk road * A350 road * A417 road

NAVIGABLE INLAND WATERWAYS

* River Thames
River Thames
* Kennet and Avon Canal

CANALS SUBJECT TO RESTORATION

* Thames and Severn Canal * North Wilts Canal * Wilts connects to Chippenham) * West of England
England
line (Salisbury)

Other routes include:

* Reading to Taunton Line * Heart of Wessex
Wessex
Line * Golden Valley
Valley
Line * South Wales Main Line

Swindon
Swindon
station

The major junction stations are Salisbury
Salisbury
and Westbury , and important junctions are also found at Swindon
Swindon
, Chippenham and Trowbridge
Trowbridge
.

There is also the Swindon
Swindon
and Cricklade
Cricklade
Railway in the Thames Valley .

AIR

Airfields in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
include Old Sarum Airfield , Clench Common Airfield and Redlands Airfield . RAF Lyneham was an air transport hub for British forces until its closure in 2012. Airports for scheduled airlines near Wiltshire
Wiltshire
include Bournemouth Airport , Bristol
Bristol
Airport , Bristol
Bristol
Filton Airport , Cardiff Airport , Exeter Airport , Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Airport , London Oxford Airport , London Heathrow Airport and Southampton Airport .

SEE ALSO

* Geography portal * Europe portal * United Kingdom
United Kingdom
portal * England
England
portal * Wiltshire
Wiltshire
portal

* Outline of England
England
* Flag of Wiltshire * List of civil parishes in Wiltshire * List of hills of Wiltshire * List of places in Wiltshire * Healthcare in Wiltshire * Category:Grade I listed buildings in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
* Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust * List of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire * Wiltshire local elections * Swindon
Swindon
local elections * List of Lords Lieutenant of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
* List of Deputy Lieutenants of Wiltshire
List of Deputy Lieutenants of Wiltshire
* List of High Sheriffs of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
* Custos Rotulorum of Wiltshire – Keepers of the Rolls * List of Parliamentary constituencies in Wiltshire * List of MPs for the former Wiltshire
Wiltshire
constituency * List of Chairmen of Wiltshire County Council * Wiltshire Police * Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner * Wiltshire Horn breed of sheep * " The Vly be on the Turmut "

REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES

* ^ "Wiltshire". Collins Dictionary. Retrieved 23 September 2014. * ^ http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/lca-5 December-chapter-7.pdf * ^ " Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Community History: Wilton". Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Council. Retrieved 13 December 2010. * ^ Pearson, Michael (2003). _Kennet & Avon Middle Thames: Pearson's Canal Companion_. Rugby: Central Waterways Supplies. ISBN 0-907864-97-X . * ^ British Army
British Army
Website. "Royal Wessex
Wessex
Yeomanry". _Regimental Page_. British Army. Retrieved 5 January 2016. * ^ Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Community History * ^ The Green and Crammer Pond, Devizes
Devizes
at devizesheritage.org.uk * ^ Staff. "Moonraking: The Folklore". _Where I live: Wiltshire_. BBC Wiltshire. Retrieved 1 December 2008. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ "South West England: climate". _Met Office_. Retrieved 16 May 2017. * ^ "Regional Gross Value Added (pp.240–253)" (PDF). _Office for National Statistics_. Retrieved 21 October 2006. * ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding * ^ includes hunting and forestry * ^ includes energy and construction * ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured * ^ " Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Strategic Analysis (2002)" (PDF). _ Wiltshire
Wiltshire
CPRE_. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 June 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2006. * ^ "SERVICE CHILDREN’S EDUCATION ANNUAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS 2012–2013" (Archive). Service Children\'s Education . PDF p. 3/62. Retrieved on 28 February 2015. "Any enquiries regarding this publication should be sent to us at Headquarters Service Children’s Education, Trenchard Lines, Upavon, Wiltshire" * ^ "2011 Census: Key Statistics: Key Figures and Age Structure". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 January 2016. * ^ " Wiltshire