Somerset is an historic county in the south west of England. There is evidence of human occupation since prehistoric times with hand axes and flint points from the Palaeolithic era, and a range of burial mounds, hill forts and other artifacts dating from the Mesolithic era. The oldest dated human road work in Great Britain is the Sweet Track, constructed across the Somerset Levels with wooden planks in the 39th century BC.
Following the Roman invasion of Great Britain the mining of lead and silver in the Mendip Hills, Somerset provided a basis for local industry and commerce. Bath became the site of a major Roman fort and city, the remains of which can still be seen. During the Dark Ages and Saxon period Somerset was the scene of battles first with the Britons and later with the Danes and was ruled by various kings of Wessex, succeeded by kings of England. Following the defeat of the Anglo-Saxons by the Normans in 1066, castles were built in Somerset.
Expansion of the population and settlements in the county of Somerset continued during the Tudor and more recent periods. Agriculture and coal mining expanded until the 18th century, although other industries declined during the industrial revolution. In modern times the population has grown, particularly in the seaside towns, notably Weston–super-Mare. Agriculture continues to be a major business, if no longer a major employer because of mechanisation. Light industries take place in towns such as Bridgwater and Yeovil. The towns of Taunton and Shepton Mallet manufacture cider, although the acreage of apple orchards is less than it once was.
Taunton is the county town of Somerset. Taunton, including its suburbs, had an estimated population of 61,400 in 2001. Taunton is the largest town in the shire county of Somerset.
The town of Taunton, Somerset has over 1,000 years of religious and military history, and is now undergoing a regeneration project. It has various transport links which support its central role in economy and commerce in Somerset.
Somerset County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Somerset. Its limited overs team is called Somerset. The club has its headquarters at the County Ground, Taunton, Somerset. First-class games are also played at the Recreation Ground, Bath. Former grounds include Yeovil, Weston-super-Mare, Frome, Glastonbury, Wells and the Imperial Tobacco Ground in south Bristol, Somerset.
Taunton is the site of Somerset County Cricket Club’s County Ground and is home to 40 Commando, Royal Marines, Central Taunton, Somerset is part of the annual West Country Carnival circuit. It hosts the Taunton flower show, which has been held in Vivary Park since 1866.
Somerset is a county in South West England. The county town of Somerset is Taunton, which is in the south of the county. The ceremonial county of Somerset borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the coast of the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the River Severn. The traditional northern border of the county is the River Avon, but the administrative boundary has crept southwards, with the creation and expansion of the City of Bristol, and latterly the county of Avon and its successor Unitary Authorities in the north.
Somerset is a rural county of rolling hills such as the Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park, and large flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels. There is evidence of human occupation from Neolithic times, and subsequent settlement in the Roman and Saxon periods. Later, the county played a significant part in the consolidation of power and rise of King Alfred the Great, the English Civil War and the Monmouth Rebellion.
Agriculture is a major business in the county. Farming of sheep and cattle, including for wool and the county’s famous cheeses (most notably Cheddar), are traditional and contemporary, as is the more unusual cultivation of willow for basketry. Apple orchards were once plentiful, and to this day Somerset is known for the production of strong cider. Unemployment is lower than the national average, and the largest employment sectors are retail, manufacturing, tourism, and health and social care. Population growth in the county is higher than the national average.
The Battle of Sedgemoor was fought on 6 July 1685 and took place at Westonzoyland near Bridgwater in Somerset, England.
It was the final battle of the Monmouth Rebellion and followed a series of skirmishes around south west England between the forces of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth and the crown he was trying to take. The royalist forces prevailed and about 500 troops captured. Monmouth escaped from the battlefield but was later captured and taken to London for trial and execution.
Many of Monmouth’s supporters were tried during the Bloody Assizes. Many were transported abroad, while others were executed by drawing and quartering.
The Mendip Hills (commonly called the Mendips) is a range of limestone hills to the south of Bristol and Bath in Somerset, England. Running east to west between Weston-super-Mare and Frome, the hills overlook the Somerset Levels to the south and the Avon Valley to the north. The hills give their name to the local government district of Mendip, which administers most of the area.
The hills are largely formed from Carboniferous Limestone, which is quarried at several sites. The higher, western part of the hills has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which gives it a level of protection comparable to a national park. The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is 198 km² (76 sq mi). The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Somerset County Council’s outdoor education centre is at the Charterhouse Centre near Blagdon.
A wide range of outdoor sports and leisure activities take place in the Mendips in Somerset, many based on the particular geology of the area. The hills are recognised as a national centre for caving and cave diving, as well as being popular with climbers, hillwalkers and natural historians.
The Quantock Hills is a range of hills west of Bridgwater in Somerset, England. The highest point on the Quantocks is Wills Neck, at 1,261 feet (384 m). The hills are officially designated as the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The hills run from the Vale of Taunton Deane in the south, for about 15 miles (24 km) to the north-west, ending at East Quantoxhead and West Quantoxhead on the coast of the Bristol Channel. They form the western border of Sedgemoor and the Somerset Levels, From the top of the hills on a clear day, it is possible to see Glastonbury Tor and the Mendips in Somerset to the east, Wales as far as the Gower Peninsula to the north, the Brendon Hills, Somerset and Exmoor to the west, and the Blackdown Hills to the south. Soil types and weather combine to support the hills’ plants and animals. In 1970 an area of 6,194.5 acres (2,506.8 ha) was designated as a Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.
They have been occupied since prehistoric times with Bronze Age round barrows and Iron Age hill forts. Evidence from Roman times includes silver coins discovered in West Bagborough. In the later Saxon period, King Alfred led the resistance to Viking invasion, and Watchet, Somerset was plundered by Danes in 987 and 997. The hills were fought over during the English Civil War and Monmouth rebellion but are now a peaceful area popular with walkers, mountain bikers, horse riders and tourists. They explore paths such as the Coleridge Way used by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who lived in Nether Stowey, Nr Bridgwater, Somerset from 1797 to 1799, or visit places of interest such as Quantock Lodge
Glastonbury Tor is a hill at Glastonbury, Somerset, England, which features the roofless St. Michael’s Tower. The site is managed by the National Trust.
Tor is a local word of Celtic origin meaning ‘rock outcropping’ or ‘hill’. The Tor has a striking location in the middle of a plain called the Summerland Meadows, part of the Somerset Levels. The plain is actually reclaimed fenland out of which the Tor once rose like an island, but now, with the surrounding flats, is a peninsula washed on three sides by the River Brue. The remains of Glastonbury Lake Village, Somerset nearby were identified in 1892, showing that there was an Iron Age settlement about 300–200 BC on what was an easily defended island in the fens. Earthworks and Roman remains prove later occupation.