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Wiltshire
Wiltshire within England
Coordinates: 51°20′N 1°55′W / 51.333°N 1.917°W / 51.333; -1.917Coordinates: 51°20′N 1°55′W / 51.333°N 1.917°W / 51.333; -1.917
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth West
EstablishedAncient
Time zoneUTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of ParliamentList of MPs
PoliceWiltshire Police
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantSarah Troughton
/ˈwɪlt.ʃər, -ʃɪər/;[2] abbreviated Wilts) is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2 (1,346 square miles).[3] It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and 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. Within the county's boundary are two unitary authority areas, Wiltshire and Swindon, governed respectively by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council.

Wiltshire is characterised by its high downland and wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being 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 medieval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, and the National Trust's Stourhead, near Mere. It is a UNESCO Cultural and World Heritage site.[4]

Toponymy

The county, in the 9th century written as Wiltunscir, later Wiltonshire, is named after the former county town of Wilton.[5]

History

Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology. The Mesolithic, Neolithic and 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.[6] 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 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 was largely Parliamentarian. The Battle of Roundway Down, a 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 Y (RWY) Squadron, based in Swindon, and B (RWY) Squadron, based in Salisbury, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.[7]

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 Wiltshire Council's Wiltshire Community History[8] website which has maps, demographic data, historic and modern pictures and short histories.

The local nickname for Wiltshire natives is "Moonrakers". This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise men by hiding the

Wiltshire is characterised by its high downland and wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being 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 medieval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, and the National Trust's Stourhead, near Mere. It is a UNESCO Cultural and World Heritage site.[4]

The county, in the 9th century written as Wiltunscir, later Wiltonshire, is named after the former county town of Wilton.[5]

History

Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology. The Mesolithic, Neolithic and 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.[6] 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 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 was largely Parliamentarian. The Battle of Roundway Down, a 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

Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology. The Mesolithic, Neolithic and 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.[6] 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 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.[6] 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 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 was largely Parliamentarian. The Battle of Roundway Down, a 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 Y (RWY) Squadron, based in Swindon, and B (RWY) Squadron, based in Salisbury, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.[7]

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 Wiltshire Council's Wiltshire Community History[8] website which has maps, demographic data, historic and modern pictures and short histories.

The local nickname for Wiltshire natives is "Moonrakers". This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local 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.[9][10]

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 Group and stretching from the Dorset Downs in the west to Dover in the east. The largest area of chalk in Wiltshire is Salisbury Plain, which is used mainly for arable agriculture and by the British Army as training ranges. The highest point in the county is the Tan HillMilk Hill ridge in the Pewsey Vale, just to the north of Salisbury Plain, at 295 m (968 ft) above sea level.

The chalk uplands run northeast into West Berkshire in the Marlborough Downs ridge, and southwest into Dorset as Cranborne Chase. Cranborne Chase, which straddles the border, has, like Salisbury Plain, yielded much Stone Age and Bronze Age archaeology. The Marlborough Downs are part of the North 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 and Bath and North East 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 West Berkshire in the Marlborough Downs ridge, and southwest into Dorset as Cranborne Chase. Cranborne Chase, which straddles the border, has, like Salisbury Plain, yielded much Stone Age and Bronze Age archaeology. The Marlborough Downs are part of the North 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 and Bath and North East 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. The Vale of Pewsey has been cut through the chalk into Greensand and Oxford 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.

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 is situated between the chalk of Salisbury Plain and marshy flood plains.

The county has a green belt mainly along its western fringes as a part of the extensive Avon Green Belt. It reaches as far as the outskirts of Rudloe/Corsham and Trowbridge, preventing urban sprawl particularly from the latter in the direction of Bradford-on-Avon, and affording further protection to surrounding villages and towns from Bath in Somerset.

Climate

Along with the rest of South West England, Wiltshire has a temperate climate which is generally

Along with the rest of South West England, Wiltshire has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than counties further east.[11] The annual mean temperature is approximately 10 °C (50.0 °F). Although there is a marked maritime influence, this is generally rather less pronounced, than it is for other south-western counties, which have a greater proximity to the sea. The summer months of July and August are the warmest with mean daily maxima of approximately 22 °C (71.6 °F). In winter mean minimum temperatures of 1 °C (33.8 °F) or 2 °C (35.6 °F) are usual and air frost normally occurs frequently. In the summer the Azores high pressure affects southwest 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.[11]

In December 1998 there were 20 days without sun recorded at Yeovilton (Somerset). Most of the rainfall in the southwest is caused by Atlantic depressions or by convection, though a

In December 1998 there were 20 days without sun recorded at Yeovilton (Somerset). Most of the rainfall in the southwest is caused by Atlantic depressions or by convection, though a proportion is caused orographically (uplift over hills). A greater proportion of rainfall is in autumn and winter, caused by the Atlantic depressions, which is when they are most active. Even so, any month can be the wettest or driest in a given year but the wettest is much more likely to be in the winter half year (Oct-Mar) and the driest in the summer half year (Apr-Sept). In summer, a greater proportion of the rainfall is caused by sun heating the ground leading to convection and to showers and thunderstorms, though it is often the northern half of the county that sees most of the showers with south-westerly winds, in summer, whereas in the south of the county, the proximity of a relatively cold English Channel, often inhibits the development of showers. In autumn and winter, however, the sea is often relatively warm, compared with the air passing over it and can often lead to a higher rainfall in the south of the county e.g. Salisbury recorded over 200mm of rain in Nov 2009 and January 2014. Average rainfall for the county is around 800 mm (31 in), drier parts averaging 700mm (28ins)and the wettest 900mm (around 35ins). 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 southwest.[11]

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added (GVA) of Wiltshire at current basic prices[12] with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional gross value added[13] Agriculture[14] IndustryThe 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 is home to national and international corporations such as Honda, Intel, 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. There are sizeable British Army barracks at Tidworth, Bulford and Warminster, and the public administration and defence, due to the military establishments around the county, particularly around Amesbury and Corsham. There are sizeable British Army barracks at Tidworth, Bulford and Warminster, and the Royal School of Artillery is at Larkhill. Further north, RAF Lyneham was home to the RAF's Hercules C130 fleet until 2011; the MoD Lyneham site is now a centre for Army technical training. Wiltshire is also distinctive for the 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 did not reach the UK average in 1998, and was only marginally above the rate for South West England.[17]

Service Children's Education has its headquarters in Trenchard Lines in Upavon, Wiltshire.[18]

Education