Wiltshire GazetteersEdit This Page
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Wiltshire (or Wilts), county in SW. of England, bounded NW. and N. by Gloucestershire, E. by Berks and Hants, S. by Hants and Dorset, and W. by Somerset; greatest length, N. and S., 53 miles; greatest breadth, E. and W., 37 miles; area, 866,677 acres, pop. 258,965. The county is divided into 2 divisions by the Vale of Pewsey extending E. and W., the northern principally a fertile flat rising near the N. border in the direction of Cotswold Hills, the southern a varied district broken by downs and intersected by fertile and well-watered valleys. To the northern division belong the Marlborough Downs, and in the southern division is Salisbury Plain. The principal rivers are the Upper Avon, flowing SW. to the Bristol Channel; the Lower Avon (with its tributaries the Wiley, Nadder, and Bourne), flowing S. to the English Channel; and the Kennet, flowing E. to the Thames. The greater part of the surface is kept in pasture, devoted in the northern division to grazing and dairy farming, and in the southern division to the rearing of sheep. Wiltshire is famous for its bacon and cheese. The geological strata are principally cretaceous, forming part of the central chalk district of England. Ironstone is abundant. The principal mfrs. are woollens and carpets at Bradford, Trowbridge, Westbury, and Wilton; cutlery and steel goods at Salisbury; iron founding at Devizes; and ropes and sacking at Marlborough. The locomotive and carriage works of the Great Western Railway are at Swindon, and near Downton is the College of Agriculture. Wiltshire is especially remarkable for the number and variety of the memorials of antiquity left by Britons, Romans, Saxons, and Danes, the chief of these being the megalithic remains of Stonehenge and Avebury. The county contains 29 hundreds, 340 parishes, and parts of 7 others.
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