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Somerset
Somerset
(/ˈsʌmərsɛt/ ( listen)) (or archaically, Somersetshire) is a county in South West England
England
which borders Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
and Bristol
Bristol
to the north, Wiltshire
Wiltshire
to the east, Dorset
Dorset
to the south-east and Devon
Devon
to the south-west. It is bounded to the north and west by the Severn Estuary
Severn Estuary
and the Bristol
Bristol
Channel, its coastline facing southeastern Wales. Its traditional border with Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
is the River Avon.[1] Somerset's county town is Taunton. Somerset
Somerset
is a rural county of rolling hills such as the Blackdown Hills, Mendip
Mendip
Hills, Quantock Hills
Quantock Hills
and Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park, and large flat expanses of land including the Somerset
Somerset
Levels. There is evidence of human occupation from Paleolithic
Paleolithic
times, and of subsequent settlement in the Celtic, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. The county played a significant part in the consolidation of power and rise of King Alfred the Great, and later in the English Civil War
English Civil War
and the Monmouth Rebellion. The city of Bath is famous for its substantial Georgian architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Contents

1 Toponymy 2 History 3 Human geography

3.1 Boundaries 3.2 Cities and towns 3.3 Green belt

4 Physical geography

4.1 Geology 4.2 Caves and rivers 4.3 Levels and moors 4.4 Coastline 4.5 Climate

5 Economy and industry

5.1 Nuclear electricity

6 Demography 7 Politics 8 Local government

8.1 Civil parishes

9 Emergency services 10 Culture 11 Transport 12 Education

12.1 Further and higher education

13 See also 14 Notes 15 References 16 Further reading 17 External links

Toponymy[edit] Somerset's name derives from Old English
Old English
Sumorsǣte, short for Sumortūnsǣte, meaning "the people living at or dependent on Sumortūn (Somerton)".[2] The first known use of Somersæte is in the law code of King Ine who was the Saxon King of Wessex
Wessex
from 688 to 726, making Somerset
Somerset
along with Hampshire, Wiltshire
Wiltshire
and Dorset
Dorset
one of the oldest extant units of local government in the world.[3] An alternative suggestion is the name derives from Seo-mere-saetan meaning "settlers by the sea lakes".[4] The Old English
Old English
name is used in the motto of the county, Sumorsǣte ealle, meaning "all the people of Somerset". Adopted as the motto in 1911, the phrase is taken from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Somerset
Somerset
was a part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and the phrase refers to the wholehearted support the people of Somerset
Somerset
gave to King Alfred in his struggle to save Wessex
Wessex
from Viking invaders.[5][6][7] Somerset
Somerset
settlement names are mostly Anglo-Saxon in origin, but some hill names include Brittonic Celtic elements. For example, an Anglo-Saxon charter of 682 refers to Creechborough Hill as "the hill the British call Cructan and the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
call Crychbeorh".[8] Some modern names are Brythonic in origin, such as Tarnock, while others have both Saxon and Brythonic elements, such as Pen Hill.[9] History[edit] Main article: History of Somerset

A map of the county in 1646, author unknown

The caves of the Mendip
Mendip
Hills were settled during the Palaeolithic period,[10] and contain extensive archaeological sites such as those at Cheddar Gorge. Bones from Gough's Cave
Gough's Cave
have been dated to 12,000 BC, and a complete skeleton, known as Cheddar Man, dates from 7150 BC.[11] Examples of cave art have been found in Aveline's Hole.[12] Some caves continued to be occupied until modern times, including Wookey Hole. The Somerset
Somerset
Levels—specifically dry points at Glastonbury
Glastonbury
and Brent Knoll— also have a long history of settlement, and are known to have been settled by Mesolithic
Mesolithic
hunters.[13][14] Travel in the area was facilitated by the construction of one of the world's oldest known engineered roadways, the Sweet Track, which dates from 3807 BC or 3806 BC.[Note 1][16][17] The exact age of the henge monument at Stanton Drew stone circles
Stanton Drew stone circles
is unknown, but it is believed to be Neolithic.[18] There are numerous Iron Age
Iron Age
hill forts, some of which, like Cadbury Castle[19] and Ham Hill, were later reoccupied in the Early Middle Ages.[20] On the authority of the future emperor Vespasian, as part of the ongoing expansion of the Roman presence in Britain, the Second Legion Augusta invaded Somerset
Somerset
from the south-east in AD 47. The county remained part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
until around AD 409, when the Roman occupation of Britain came to an end.[1] A variety of Roman remains have been found, including Pagans Hill Roman temple
Pagans Hill Roman temple
in Chew Stoke,[21] Low Ham Roman Villa
Low Ham Roman Villa
and the Roman Baths that gave their name to the city of Bath.[22]

Palladian
Palladian
Pulteney Bridge at Bath

After the Romans left, Britain was invaded by Anglo-Saxon peoples. By AD 600 they had established control over much of what is now England, but Somerset
Somerset
was still in native British hands. The British held back Saxon advance into the south-west for some time longer, but by the early eighth century King Ine of Wessex
Ine of Wessex
had pushed the boundaries of the West Saxon kingdom far enough west to include Somerset.[23] The Saxon royal palace in Cheddar was used several times in the 10th century to host the Witenagemot.[24] After the Norman Conquest, the county was divided into 700 fiefs, and large areas were owned by the crown,[25] with fortifications such as Dunster Castle
Dunster Castle
used for control and defence. Somerset
Somerset
contains HM Prison Shepton Mallet, which was England's oldest prison still in use prior to its closure in 2013, having opened in 1610.[26] In the English Civil War
English Civil War
Somerset
Somerset
was largely Parliamentarian,[27] with key engagements being the Sieges of Taunton[28] and the Battle of Langport.[29] In 1685 the Monmouth Rebellion was played out in Somerset
Somerset
and neighbouring Dorset.[30] The rebels landed at Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis
and travelled north, hoping to capture Bristol
Bristol
and Bath, but they were defeated in the Battle of Sedgemoor
Sedgemoor
at Westonzoyland, the last pitched battle fought in England.[31] Arthur Wellesley took his title, Duke of Wellington from the town of Wellington;[32] he is commemorated on a nearby hill by a large, spotlit obelisk, known as the Wellington Monument.[33] The Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
in the Midlands and Northern England
England
spelled the end for most of Somerset's cottage industries. Farming continued to flourish, however, and the Bath and West of England
England
Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures and Commerce was founded in 1777 to improve farming methods. Despite this, 20 years later John Billingsley conducted a survey of the county's agriculture in 1795 and found that agricultural methods could still be improved.[34] Coal mining was an important industry in north Somerset during the 18th and 19th centuries, and by 1800 it was prominent in Radstock.[35] The Somerset Coalfield
Somerset Coalfield
reached its peak production by the 1920s, but all the pits have now been closed, the last in 1973.[36] Most of the surface buildings have been removed, and apart from a winding wheel outside Radstock
Radstock
Museum, little evidence of their former existence remains. Further west, the Brendon Hills
Brendon Hills
were mined for iron ore in the late 19th century; this was taken by the West Somerset
Somerset
Mineral Railway to Watchet
Watchet
Harbour for shipment to the furnaces at Ebbw Vale.[37] Many Somerset
Somerset
soldiers died during the First World War, with the Somerset Light Infantry
Somerset Light Infantry
suffering nearly 5,000 casualties.[38] War memorials were put up in most of the county's towns and villages; only nine, described as the Thankful Villages, had none of their residents killed. During the Second World War the county was a base for troops preparing for the D-Day landings. Some of the hospitals which were built for the casualties of the war remain in use. The Taunton
Taunton
Stop Line was set up to repel a potential German invasion. The remains of its pill boxes can still be seen along the coast, and south through Ilminster
Ilminster
and Chard.[39] A number of decoy towns were constructed in Somerset
Somerset
in World War II to protect Bristol
Bristol
and other towns, at night. They were designed to mimic the geometry of "blacked out" streets, railway lines, and Bristol
Bristol
Temple Meads railway station, to encourage bombers away from these targets.[40] One, on the radio beam flight path to Bristol, was constructed on Beacon Batch.[40][41] It was laid out by Shepperton Studios, based on aerial photographs of the city's railway marshalling yards.[40] The decoys were fitted with dim red lights, simulating activities like the stoking of steam locomotives. Burning bales of straw soaked in creosote were used to simulate the effects of incendiary bombs dropped by the first wave of Pathfinder night bombers; meanwhile, incendiary bombs dropped on the correct location were quickly smothered, wherever possible. Drums of oil were also ignited to simulate the effect of a blazing city or town, with the aim of fooling subsequent waves of bombers into dropping their bombs on the wrong location.[40] The Chew Magna
Chew Magna
decoy town was hit by half a dozen bombs on 2 December 1940, and over a thousand incendiaries on 3 January 1941.[40] The following night the Uphill
Uphill
decoy town, protecting Weston-super-Mare's airfield, was bombed; a herd of dairy cows was hit, killing some and severely injuring others.[40] Human geography[edit] Boundaries[edit]

The Avon Gorge, the historic boundary between Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
and Somerset, and also Mercia
Mercia
and Wessex; Somerset
Somerset
is to the left

The boundaries of Somerset
Somerset
are very similar to how they were in medieval times. They have been largely unaltered. The River Avon formed much of the border with Gloucestershire, except that the hundred of Bath Forum, which straddles the Avon, formed part of Somerset. Bristol
Bristol
began as a town on the Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
side of the Avon, however as it grew it extended across the river into Somerset. In 1373 Edward III proclaimed "that the town of Bristol
Bristol
with its suburbs and precincts shall henceforth be separate from the counties of Gloucester and Somerset ... and that it should be a county by itself".[42] The present-day northern border of Somerset
Somerset
(adjoining the counties of Bristol
Bristol
and Gloucestershire) runs along the southern bank of the Avon from the Bristol
Bristol
Channel, then follows around the southern edge of the Bristol
Bristol
built-up area, before continuing upstream along the Avon, and then diverges from the river to include Bath and its historic hinterland to the north of the Avon, before meeting Wiltshire
Wiltshire
at the Three Shire Stones on the Fosse Way
Fosse Way
at Batheaston.[43] Cities and towns[edit] See also: List of places in Somerset, List of settlements in Somerset by population, and Category:Populated places in Somerset Somerton
Somerton
took over from Ilchester
Ilchester
as the county town in the late thirteenth century,[44] but it declined in importance and the status of county town transferred to Taunton
Taunton
about 1366.[45] The county has two cities, Bath and Wells, and 30 towns (including the county town of Taunton, which has no town council but instead is the chief settlement of the county's only extant borough). The largest urban areas in terms of population are Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Taunton, Yeovil
Yeovil
and Bridgwater.[46] Many settlements developed because of their strategic importance in relation to geographical features, such as river crossings or valleys in ranges of hills. Examples include Axbridge
Axbridge
on the River Axe, Castle Cary
Castle Cary
on the River Cary, North Petherton
North Petherton
on the River Parrett, and Ilminster, where there was a crossing point on the River Isle. Midsomer Norton
Midsomer Norton
lies on the River Somer; while the Wellow Brook and the Fosse Way
Fosse Way
Roman road run through Radstock. Chard is the most southerly town in Somerset
Somerset
and one of the highest, though at an altitude of 126 m (413 ft) Wiveliscombe
Wiveliscombe
is the highest town in the county. Green belt[edit] Main article: Avon Green Belt The county contains several miles wide sections of the Avon green belt area, which is primarily in place to prevent urban sprawl from the Bristol
Bristol
and Bath built up areas into the rural areas of North Somerset[47], Bath and North East Somerset[48], and Mendip[49] districts in the county, as well as maintaining surrounding countryside. It stretches from the coastline between the towns of Portishead and Clevedon, extending eastwards past Nailsea, around the Bristol
Bristol
conurbation, and through to the city of Bath. The green belt border intersects with the Mendip
Mendip
Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) along its south boundary, and meets the Cotswolds AONB by its eastern extent along the Wiltshire
Wiltshire
county border, creating an extended area protected from inappropriate development. Physical geography[edit] Main article: Geography of Somerset Geology[edit] Main article: Geology of Somerset Much of the landscape of Somerset
Somerset
falls into types determined by the underlying geology. These landscapes are the limestone karst and lias of the north, the clay vales and wetlands of the centre, the oolites of the east and south, and the Devonian
Devonian
sandstone of the west.[50]

The River Brue
River Brue
in an artificial channel draining farmland near Glastonbury

To the north-east of the Somerset
Somerset
Levels, the Mendip
Mendip
Hills are moderately high limestone hills. The central and western Mendip
Mendip
Hills was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
in 1972 and covers 198 km2 (76 sq mi).[51] The main habitat on these hills is calcareous grassland, with some arable agriculture. To the south-west of the Somerset Levels
Somerset Levels
are the Quantock Hills
Quantock Hills
which was England's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
designated in 1956[52] which is covered in heathland, oak woodlands, ancient parklands with plantations of conifer and covers 99 square kilometres. The Somerset Coalfield
Somerset Coalfield
is part of a larger coalfield which stretches into Gloucestershire. To the north of the Mendip
Mendip
hills is the Chew Valley
Valley
and to the south, on the clay substrate, are broad valleys which support dairy farming and drain into the Somerset
Somerset
Levels. Caves and rivers[edit] There is an extensive network of caves, including Wookey Hole, underground rivers, and gorges, including the Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge
and Ebbor Gorge.[53] The county has many rivers, including the Axe, Brue, Cary, Parrett, Sheppey, Tone and Yeo. These both feed and drain the flat levels and moors of mid and west Somerset.[54] In the north of the county the River Chew
River Chew
flows into the Bristol
Bristol
Avon. The Parrett is tidal almost to Langport, where there is evidence of two Roman wharfs.[55] At the same site during the reign of King Charles I, river tolls were levied on boats to pay for the maintenance of the bridge.[55] Levels and moors[edit]

The town of Glastonbury
Glastonbury
looking west from the top of Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Tor. The fields in the distance are the Somerset
Somerset
Levels.

The Somerset Levels
Somerset Levels
(or Somerset Levels
Somerset Levels
and Moors as they are less commonly but more correctly known) are a sparsely populated wetland area of central Somerset, between the Quantock and Mendip
Mendip
hills. They consist of marine clay levels along the coast, and the inland (often peat based) moors. The Levels are divided into two by the Polden Hills; land to the south is drained by the River Parrett
River Parrett
while land to the north is drained by the River Axe and the River Brue. The total area of the Levels amounts to about 647.5 square kilometres (160,000 acres)[56] and broadly corresponds to the administrative district of Sedgemoor
Sedgemoor
but also includes the south west of Mendip
Mendip
district. Approximately 70% of the area is grassland and 30% is arable.[56] Stretching about 32 kilometres (20 mi) inland, this expanse of flat land barely rises above sea level. Before it was drained, much of the land was under a shallow brackish sea in winter and was marsh land in summer. Drainage began with the Romans, and was restarted at various times: by the Anglo-Saxons; in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
by the Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Abbey, during 1400–1770; and during the Second World War, with the construction of the Huntspill River. Pumping and management of water levels still continues.[57]

The Exmoor
Exmoor
landscape with the native Exmoor
Exmoor
Pony

The North Somerset
North Somerset
Levels basin, north of the Mendips, covers a smaller geographical area than the Somerset
Somerset
Levels; and forms a coastal area around Avonmouth. It too was reclaimed by draining.[57][58] It is mirrored, across the Severn Estuary, in Wales, by a similar low-lying area: the Caldicot and Wentloog Levels.[58] In the far west of the county, running into Devon, is Exmoor, a high Devonian
Devonian
sandstone moor, which was designated as a national park in 1954, under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.[59] The highest point in Somerset
Somerset
is Dunkery Beacon on Exmoor, with an altitude of 519 metres (1,703 feet).[60] Over 100 sites in Somerset
Somerset
have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. See also: List of hills of Somerset Coastline[edit]

Brean Down
Brean Down
from Steep Holm

The marina in Watchet

The 64 km (40 mi) coastline of the Bristol
Bristol
Channel and Severn Estuary
Severn Estuary
forms part of the northern border of Somerset.[61] The Bristol
Bristol
Channel has the second largest tidal range in the world. At Burnham-on-Sea, for example, the tidal range of a spring tide is more than 12 metres (39 feet).[62] Proposals for the construction of a Severn Barrage
Severn Barrage
aim to harness this energy. The island of Steep Holm
Steep Holm
in the Bristol
Bristol
Channel is within the ceremonial county and is now administered by North Somerset
North Somerset
Council.[63] The main coastal towns are, from the west to the north-east, Minehead, Watchet, Burnham-on-Sea, Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon
Clevedon
and Portishead. The coastal area between Minehead
Minehead
and the eastern extreme of the administrative county's coastline at Brean Down
Brean Down
is known as Bridgwater Bay, and is a National Nature Reserve.[64] North of that, the coast forms Weston Bay
Weston Bay
and Sand Bay
Sand Bay
whose northern tip, Sand Point, marks the lower limit of the Severn Estuary.[65] In the mid and north of the county the coastline is low as the level wetlands of the levels meet the sea. In the west, the coastline is high and dramatic where the plateau of Exmoor
Exmoor
meets the sea, with high cliffs and waterfalls.[66] Climate[edit] Along with the rest of South West England, Somerset
Somerset
has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country.[67] 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.[67] In the summer the Azores
Azores
high pressure affects the south-west of England, but 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.[67] 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 the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.[67]

Climate data for Yeovilton, England
England
(1981–2010) data

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 8.1 (46.6) 8.3 (46.9) 10.6 (51.1) 12.9 (55.2) 16.5 (61.7) 19.3 (66.7) 21.7 (71.1) 21.5 (70.7) 18.6 (65.5) 14.8 (58.6) 11.1 (52) 9.0 (48.2) 14.4 (57.9)

Daily mean °C (°F) 4.8 (40.6) 4.8 (40.6) 6.7 (44.1) 8.3 (46.9) 11.7 (53.1) 14.5 (58.1) 16.8 (62.2) 16.6 (61.9) 14.1 (57.4) 10.9 (51.6) 7.4 (45.3) 5.7 (42.3) 10.2 (50.4)

Average low °C (°F) 1.4 (34.5) 1.3 (34.3) 2.7 (36.9) 3.7 (38.7) 6.8 (44.2) 9.7 (49.5) 11.9 (53.4) 11.7 (53.1) 9.6 (49.3) 6.9 (44.4) 3.6 (38.5) 2.4 (36.3) 6.0 (42.8)

Average precipitation mm (inches) 72.0 (2.835) 55.6 (2.189) 56.5 (2.224) 47.3 (1.862) 48.9 (1.925) 57.2 (2.252) 48.9 (1.925) 56.6 (2.228) 64.5 (2.539) 67.9 (2.673) 65.8 (2.591) 83.3 (3.28) 724.5 (28.524)

Average rainy days 12.5 10.2 10.9 9.2 8.8 8.5 6.9 8.6 10.1 11.3 11.6 12.6 121.2

Mean monthly sunshine hours 50.2 68.9 107.6 155.4 193.1 186.0 205.8 197.8 139.8 101.1 70.2 46.8 1,522.7

Source: [68]

Economy and industry[edit] Main article: Economy of Somerset

The Dunster Yarn Market was built in 1609 for the trading of local cloth.

Somerset
Somerset
has few industrial centres, but it does have a variety of light industry and high technology businesses, along with traditional agriculture and an increasingly important tourism sector, resulting in an unemployment rate of 2.5%.[69] Unemployment is lower than the national average; the largest employment sectors are retail, manufacturing, tourism, and health and social care. Population growth in the county is higher than the national average. Bridgwater
Bridgwater
was developed during the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
as the area's leading port. The River Parrett
River Parrett
was navigable by large ships as far as Bridgwater. Cargoes were then loaded onto smaller boats at Langport
Langport
Quay, next to the Bridgwater
Bridgwater
Bridge, to be carried further up river to Langport;[70] or they could turn off at Burrowbridge
Burrowbridge
and then travel via the River Tone
River Tone
to Taunton.[55] The Parrett is now only navigable as far as Dunball
Dunball
Wharf. Bridgwater, in the 19th and 20th centuries, was a centre for the manufacture of bricks and clay roof tiles, and later cellophane, but those industries have now stopped.[70] With its good links to the motorway system, Bridgwater has developed as a distribution hub for companies such as Argos, Toolstation, Morrisons
Morrisons
and Gerber Juice. AgustaWestland
AgustaWestland
manufactures helicopters in Yeovil,[71] and Normalair Garratt, builder of aircraft oxygen systems, is also based in the town.[72] Many towns have encouraged small-scale light industries, such as Crewkerne's Ariel Motor Company, one of the UK's smallest car manufacturers. Somerset
Somerset
is an important supplier of defence equipment and technology. A Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Bridgwater
Bridgwater
was built at the start of the Second World War, between the villages of Puriton
Puriton
and Woolavington,[73] to manufacture explosives. The site was decommissioned and closed in July 2008.[74] Templecombe
Templecombe
has Thales Underwater Systems,[75] and Taunton
Taunton
presently has the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and Avimo, which became part of Thales Optics. It has been announced twice, in 2006 and 2007, that manufacturing is to end at Thales Optics' Taunton
Taunton
site,[76] but the trade unions and Taunton
Taunton
Deane District Council are working to reverse or mitigate these decisions. Other high-technology companies include the optics company Gooch and Housego, at Ilminster. There are Ministry of Defence offices in Bath, and Norton Fitzwarren
Norton Fitzwarren
is the home of 40 Commando Royal Marines. The Royal Naval Air Station in Yeovilton, is one of Britain's two active Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
bases and is home to the Royal Navy's Lynx helicopters and the Royal Marines Commando Westland Sea Kings. Around 1,675 service and 2,000 civilian personnel are stationed at Yeovilton
Yeovilton
and key activities include training of aircrew and engineers and the Royal Navy's Fighter Controllers and surface-based aircraft controllers.

A traditional cider apple orchard at Over Stratton, with sheep grazing

Agriculture and food and drink production continue to be major industries in the county, employing over 15,000 people.[77] Apple orchards were once plentiful, and Somerset
Somerset
is still a major producer of cider. The towns of Taunton
Taunton
and Shepton Mallet
Shepton Mallet
are involved with the production of cider, especially Blackthorn Cider, which is sold nationwide, and there are specialist producers such as Burrow Hill Cider
Cider
Farm and Thatchers Cider. Gerber Products Company
Gerber Products Company
in Bridgwater is the largest producer of fruit juices in Europe, producing brands such as "Sunny Delight" and "Ocean Spray." Development of the milk-based industries, such as Ilchester
Ilchester
Cheese Company and Yeo Valley Organic, have resulted in the production of ranges of desserts, yoghurts and cheeses,[78] including Cheddar cheese—some of which has the West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). Traditional willow growing and weaving (such as basket weaving) is not as extensive as it used to be but is still carried out on the Somerset Levels and is commemorated at the Willows and Wetlands Visitor Centre.[79] Fragments of willow basket were found near the Glastonbury Lake Village, and it was also used in the construction of several Iron Age causeways.[80] The willow was harvested using a traditional method of pollarding, where a tree would be cut back to the main stem. During the 1930s more than 3,600 hectares (8,900 acres) of willow were being grown commercially on the Levels. Largely due to the displacement of baskets with plastic bags and cardboard boxes, the industry has severely declined since the 1950s. By the end of the 20th century only about 140 hectares (350 acres) were grown commercially, near the villages of Burrowbridge, Westonzoyland
Westonzoyland
and North Curry.[56] The Somerset Levels
Somerset Levels
is now the only area in the UK where basket willow is grown commercially. Towns such as Castle Cary
Castle Cary
and Frome
Frome
grew around the medieval weaving industry. Street developed as a centre for the production of woollen slippers and, later, boots and shoes, with C. & J. Clark establishing its headquarters in the town. C&J Clark's shoes are no longer manufactured there as the work was transferred to lower-wage areas, such as China and Asia.[81] Instead, in 1993, redundant factory buildings were converted to form Clarks Village, the first purpose-built factory outlet in the UK. C&J Clark also had shoe factories, at one time at Bridgwater, Minehead, Westfield and Weston super Mare to provide employment outside the main summer tourist season, but those satellite sites were closed in the late 1980s, before the main site at Street. Dr. Martens
Dr. Martens
shoes were also made in Somerset, by the Northampton-based R. Griggs Group, using redundant skilled shoemakers from C&J Clark; that work has also been transferred to Asia.

Stone quarries are still a major employer in Somerset

The county has a long tradition of supplying freestone and building stone. Quarries at Doulting
Doulting
supplied freestone used in the construction of Wells Cathedral. Bath stone
Bath stone
is also widely used. Ralph Allen promoted its use in the early 18th century, as did Hans Price
Hans Price
in the 19th century, but it was used long before then. It was mined underground at Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines, and as a result of cutting the Box Tunnel, at locations in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
such as Box.[82][83][84] Bath stone
Bath stone
is still used on a reduced scale today, but more often as a cladding rather than a structural material.[82] Further south, Hamstone
Hamstone
is the colloquial name given to stone from Ham Hill, which is also widely used in the construction industry. Blue Lias has been used locally as a building stone and as a raw material for lime mortar and Portland cement. Until the 1960s, Puriton
Puriton
had Blue Lias stone quarries, as did several other Polden villages. Its quarries also supplied a cement factory at Dunball, adjacent to the King's Sedgemoor
Sedgemoor
Drain. Its derelict, early 20th century remains, was removed when the M5 motorway
M5 motorway
was constructed in the mid-1970s.[85] Since the 1920s, the county has supplied aggregates. Foster Yeoman
Foster Yeoman
is Europe's large supplier of limestone aggregates, with quarries at Merehead Quarry. It has a dedicated railway operation, Mendip
Mendip
Rail, which is used to transport aggregates by rail from a group of Mendip quarries.[86] Tourism is a major industry, estimated in 2001 to support around 23,000 people. Attractions include the coastal towns, part of the Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park, the West Somerset
West Somerset
Railway (a heritage railway), and the museum of the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
at RNAS Yeovilton. The town of Glastonbury
Glastonbury
has mythical associations, including legends of a visit by the young Jesus of Nazareth and Joseph of Arimathea, with links to the Holy Grail, King Arthur, and Camelot, identified by some as Cadbury Castle, an Iron Age
Iron Age
hill fort. Glastonbury
Glastonbury
also gives its name to an annual open-air rock festival held in nearby Pilton. There are show caves open to visitors in the Cheddar Gorge, as well as its locally produced cheese, although there is now only one remaining cheese maker in the village of Cheddar. In November 2008, a public sector inward investment organisation was launched, called Into Somerset,[87] with the intention of growing the county's economy by promoting it to businesses that may wish to relocate from other parts of the UK (especially London) and the world. Nuclear electricity[edit] Hinkley Point C nuclear power station
Hinkley Point C nuclear power station
is a project to construct a 3,200 MW two reactor nuclear power station.[88] On 18 October 2010, the British government announced that Hinkley Point – already the site of the disused Hinkley Point
Hinkley Point
A and the still operational Hinkley Point
Hinkley Point
B power stations – was one of the eight sites it considered suitable for future nuclear power stations.[89] NNB Generation Company, a subsidiary of EDF, submitted an application for development consent to the Infrastructure Planning Commission on 31 October 2011.[90] A protest group, Stop Hinkley, was formed to campaign for the closure of Hinkley Point
Hinkley Point
B and oppose any expansion at the Hinkley Point
Hinkley Point
site. In December 2013, the European Commission opened an investigation to assess whether the project breaks state-aid rules.[91][92] On 8 October 2014 it was announced that the European Commission has approved the project, with an overwhelming majority and only four commissioners voting against the decision.[93] Demography[edit] See also: List of settlements in Somerset
Somerset
by population

Somerset
Somerset
compared

UK Census 2001 Somerset
Somerset
C.C.[94] North Somerset
North Somerset
UA[95] BANES UA[96] South West England[96] England[96]

Total population 498,093 188,564 169,040 4,928,434 49,138,831

Foreign born 7.6% 9.5% 11.2% 9.4% 9.2%

White 98.8% 97.1% 97.3% 97.7% 91%

Asian 0.3% 1.7% 0.5% 0.7% 4.6%

Black 0.2% 0.9% 0.5% 0.4% 2.3%

Christian 76.7% 75.0% 71.0% 74.0% 72%

Muslim 0.2% 0.2% 0.4% 0.5% 3.1%

Hindu 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2% 1.1%

No religion 14.9% 16.6% 19.5% 16.8% 15%

Over 75 years old 9.6% 9.9% 8.9% 9.3% 7.5%

Unemployed 2.5% 2.1% 2.0% 2.6% 3.3%

In the 2001 census the population of the Somerset County Council
Somerset County Council
area was 498,093[97] with 169,040 in Bath and North East Somerset,[98] and 188,564 in North Somerset[99] giving a total for the ceremonial county of 855,697. Population growth
Population growth
is higher than the national average, with a 6.4% increase, in the Somerset County Council
Somerset County Council
area, since 1991, and a 17% increase since 1981. The population density is 1.4 persons per hectare, which can be compared to 2.07 persons per hectare for the South West region. Within the county, population density ranges 0.5 in West Somerset
West Somerset
to 2.2 persons per hectare in Taunton
Taunton
Deane. The percentage of the population who are economically active is higher than the regional and national average, and the unemployment rate is lower than the regional and national average.[100] Somerset
Somerset
has a high indigenous British population, with 98.8% registering as white British and 92.4% of these as born in the United Kingdom. Chinese is the largest ethnic group, while the black minority ethnic proportion of the total population is 2.9%.[61] Over 25% of Somerset's population is concentrated in Taunton, Bridgwater
Bridgwater
and Yeovil. The rest of the county is rural and sparsely populated. Over 9 million tourist nights are spent in Somerset
Somerset
each year, which significantly increases the population at peak times.[61]

Population since 1801

Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001

Somerset
Somerset
CC area[101] 187,266 276,684 277,563 280,215 282,411 284,740 305,244 327,505 355,292 385,698 417,450 468,395 498,093

BANES[102] 57,188 96,992 107,637 113,732 113,351 112,972 123,185 134,346 144,950 156,421 154,083 164,737 169,045

North Somerset[103] 16,670 33,774 60,066 68,410 75,276 82,833 91,967 102,119 119,509 139,924 160,353 179,865 188,556

Total 261,124 407,450 445,266 462,357 471,038 479,758 520,396 563,970 619,751 682,043 731,886 812,997 855,694

Politics[edit]

Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare
town hall, the administrative headquarters of North Somerset

The county is divided into nine constituencies, each returning one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons. In the June 2017 general election, the majority of constituencies of the county elected Conservative MPs, with the exception of Bath, who elected a Liberal Democrats [104] The current constituencies of Somerset
Somerset
are Bridgwater and West Somerset, North East Somerset, North Somerset, Bath, Somerton and Frome, Taunton
Taunton
Deane, Wells, Yeovil, and Weston-super-Mare. Residents of Somerset
Somerset
also form part of the electorate for the South West England
England
constituency for elections to the European Parliament.[105] Local government[edit] Main article: Somerset
Somerset
County Council The ceremonial county of Somerset
Somerset
consists of a two-tier non-metropolitan county, which is administered by Somerset
Somerset
County Council and five district councils, and two unitary authority areas (whose councils combine the functions of a county and a district). The five districts of Somerset
Somerset
are West Somerset, South Somerset, Taunton Deane, Mendip, and Sedgemoor. The two unitary authorities — which were established on 1 April 1996 following the break-up of the short-lived county of Avon — are North Somerset, and Bath & North East Somerset.[106] These unitary authorities formed part of the administrative county of Somerset
Somerset
before the creation of Avon (a county created to cover Bristol
Bristol
and its environs in north Somerset
Somerset
and south Gloucestershire) in 1974. Bath however was a largely independent county borough during the existence of the administrative county of Somerset
Somerset
(from 1889 to 1974). In 2007, proposals to abolish the five district councils in favour of a unitary authority (covering the existing two-tier county) were rejected following local opposition.[107] West Somerset
West Somerset
is the least populous district (except for the two sui generis districts) in England. In September 2016, West Somerset
West Somerset
and Taunton
Taunton
Deane councils agreed in principle to merge the districts into one (with one council) subject to consultation.[108] It is planned to achieve this on 1 April 2019 with the first elections to the new council in May 2019. The new district would not be a unitary authority, with Somerset
Somerset
County Council still performing its functions.[109] Civil parishes[edit] Main article: List of civil parishes in Somerset Almost all of the county is covered by the lowest/most local form of English local government, the civil parish, with either a town or parish council (a city council in the instance of Wells) or a parish meeting; some parishes group together, with a single council or meeting for the group. The city of Bath (the area of the former county borough) and much of the town of Taunton
Taunton
are unparished areas. Emergency services[edit] All of the ceremonial county of Somerset
Somerset
is covered by the Avon and Somerset
Somerset
Constabulary, a police force which also covers Bristol
Bristol
and South Gloucestershire. The police force is governed by the elected Avon and Somerset
Somerset
Police and Crime Commissioner. The Devon
Devon
and Somerset
Somerset
Fire and Rescue Service was formed in 2007 upon the merger of the Somerset
Somerset
Fire and Rescue Service with its neighbouring Devon service; it covers the area of Somerset County Council
Somerset County Council
as well as the entire ceremonial county of Devon. The unitary districts of North Somerset
Somerset
and Bath & North East Somerset
Somerset
are instead covered by the Avon Fire and Rescue Service, a service which also covers Bristol
Bristol
and South Gloucestershire. The South Western Ambulance Service
South Western Ambulance Service
covers the entire South West of England, including all of Somerset; prior to February 2013 the unitary districts of Somerset
Somerset
came under the Great Western Ambulance Service, which merged into South Western. The Dorset and Somerset
Somerset
Air Ambulance is a charitable organisation based in the county. Culture[edit] Main article: Culture of Somerset

The west front of Wells Cathedral

Somerset
Somerset
has traditions of art, music and literature. Wordsworth and Coleridge wrote while staying in Coleridge Cottage, Nether Stowey.[110] The writer Evelyn Waugh
Evelyn Waugh
spent his last years in the village of Combe Florey.[111] The novelist John Cowper Powys (1872–1963) lived in the Somerset
Somerset
village of Montacute
Montacute
from 1885 until 1894 and his novels Wood and Stone (1915) and A Glastonbury Romance (1932) are set in Somerset. Traditional folk music, both song and dance, was important in the agricultural communities. Somerset
Somerset
songs were collected by Cecil Sharp and incorporated into works such as Holst's A Somerset
Somerset
Rhapsody. Halsway Manor
Halsway Manor
near Williton
Williton
is an international centre for folk music. The tradition continues today with groups such as The Wurzels specialising in Scrumpy and Western
Scrumpy and Western
music.[112] The Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts takes place most years in Pilton, near Shepton Mallet, attracting over 170,000 music and culture lovers from around the world to see world-famous entertainers.[113] The Big Green Gathering
Big Green Gathering
which grew out of the Green fields at the Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Festival is held in the Mendip
Mendip
Hills between Charterhouse and Compton Martin
Compton Martin
each summer.[114] The annual Bath Literature Festival is one of several local festivals in the county; others include the Frome
Frome
Festival and the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival, which, despite its name, is held at Farleigh Hungerford
Farleigh Hungerford
in Somerset. The annual circuit of West Country Carnivals is held in a variety of Somerset
Somerset
towns during the autumn, forming a major regional festival, and the largest Festival of Lights in Europe.[115]

Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Tor

In Arthurian legend, Avalon
Avalon
became associated with Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Tor when monks at Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Abbey claimed to have discovered the bones of King Arthur
King Arthur
and his queen.[116] What is more certain is that Glastonbury
Glastonbury
was an important religious centre by 700 and claims to be "the oldest above-ground Christian church in the World"[117] situated "in the mystical land of Avalon." The claim is based on dating the founding of the community of monks at AD 63, the year of the legendary visit of Joseph of Arimathea, who was supposed to have brought the Holy Grail.[117] During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
there were also important religious sites at Woodspring Priory
Woodspring Priory
and Muchelney Abbey. The present Diocese of Bath and Wells
Diocese of Bath and Wells
covers Somerset – with the exception of the Parish of Abbots Leigh
Abbots Leigh
with Leigh Woods in North Somerset – and a small area of Dorset. The Episcopal seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishop of Bath and Wells
is now in the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew in the city of Wells, having previously been at Bath Abbey. Before the English Reformation, it was a Roman Catholic diocese; the county now falls within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton. The Benedictine monastery Saint Gregory's Abbey, commonly known as Downside Abbey, is at Stratton-on-the-Fosse, and the ruins of the former Cistercian Cleeve Abbey
Cleeve Abbey
are near the village of Washford.

Tyntesfield

The county has several museums; those at Bath include the American Museum in Britain, the Museum of Bath Architecture, the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, the Jane Austen Centre, and the Roman Baths. Other visitor attractions which reflect the cultural heritage of the county include: Claverton Pumping Station, Dunster Working Watermill, the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
Museum at Yeovilton, Nunney Castle, The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, King John's Hunting Lodge in Axbridge, Blake Museum
Blake Museum
Bridgwater, Radstock
Radstock
Museum, Museum of Somerset
Museum of Somerset
in Taunton, the Somerset Rural Life Museum
Somerset Rural Life Museum
in Glastonbury, and Westonzoyland
Westonzoyland
Pumping Station Museum. Somerset
Somerset
has 11,500 listed buildings, 523 scheduled monuments, 192 conservation areas,[118] 41 parks and gardens including those at Barrington Court, Holnicote Estate, Prior Park Landscape Garden
Prior Park Landscape Garden
and Tintinhull Garden, 36 English Heritage
English Heritage
sites and 19 National Trust sites,[1] including Clevedon
Clevedon
Court, Fyne Court, Montacute
Montacute
House and Tyntesfield
Tyntesfield
as well as Stembridge Tower Mill, the last remaining thatched windmill in England.[1] Other historic houses in the county which have remained in private ownership or used for other purposes include Halswell House
Halswell House
and Marston Bigot. A key contribution of Somerset
Somerset
architecture is its medieval church towers. Jenkins writes, "These structures, with their buttresses, bell-opening tracery and crowns, rank with Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire
alabaster as England's finest contribution to medieval art."[119] Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby
play at the Recreation Ground in Bath, and the Somerset County Cricket Club are based at the County Ground in Taunton. The county gained its first Football League club in 2003, when Yeovil
Yeovil
Town won promotion to Division Three as Football Conference
Football Conference
champions.[120] They had achieved numerous FA Cup
FA Cup
victories over football League sides in the past 50 years, and since joining the elite they have won promotion again—as League Two champions in 2005. They came close to yet another promotion in 2007, when they reached the League One playoff final, but lost to Blackpool at the newly reopened Wembley Stadium. Yeovil
Yeovil
achieved promotion to the Championship in 2013 after beating Brentford in the playoff final. Horse racing courses are at Taunton
Taunton
and Wincanton. In addition to English national newspapers the county is served by the regional Western Daily Press and local newspapers including The Weston & Somerset
Somerset
Mercury, the Bath Chronicle, Chew Valley
Valley
Gazette, Somerset
Somerset
County Gazette, Clevedon
Clevedon
Mercury Mendip
Mendip
Times, and the West Somerset
Somerset
Free Press. Television and radio are provided by BBC Points West and BBC Somerset, Heart West Country, The Breeze ( Yeovil
Yeovil
& South Somerset) Yeovil, and HTV, now known as ITV Wales
Wales
& West Ltd, but still commonly referred to as HTV.[121] The Flag of Somerset, representing the ceremonial county, has been registered with the Flag Institute[122] following a competition in July 2013. Transport[edit] Main article: Transport in Somerset

Bristol
Bristol
Airport, which is located in North Somerset

Somerset
Somerset
has 6,531 km (4,058 mi) of roads. The main arterial routes, which include the M5 motorway, A303, A37, A38, A39, A358 and A361 give good access across the county, but many areas can only be accessed via narrow country lanes.[61] Rail services are provided by the West of England
England
Main Line through Yeovil
Yeovil
Junction, the Bristol
Bristol
to Exeter Line, Heart of Wessex
Wessex
Line which runs from Bristol
Bristol
Temple Meads to Weymouth and the Reading to Taunton
Taunton
Line. The key train operator for Somerset
Somerset
is Great Western Railway, and other services are operated by South Western Railway and CrossCountry. Bristol
Bristol
Airport, located in North Somerset, provides national and international air services. The Somerset Coal Canal
Somerset Coal Canal
was built in the early 19th century to reduce the cost of transportation of coal and other heavy produce.[55] The first 16 kilometres (10 mi), running from a junction with the Kennet and Avon Canal, along the Cam valley, to a terminal basin at Paulton, were in use by 1805, together with several tramways. A planned 11.7 km (7.3 mi) branch to Midford was never built, but in 1815 a tramway was laid along its towing path. In 1871 the tramway was purchased by the Somerset
Somerset
& Dorset
Dorset
Joint Railway (S&DJR),[123][124] and operated until the 1950s. The 19th century saw improvements to Somerset's roads with the introduction of turnpikes, and the building of canals and railways. Nineteenth-century canals included the Bridgwater
Bridgwater
and Taunton
Taunton
Canal, Westport Canal, Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Canal and Chard Canal.[13][55] The Dorset and Somerset
Somerset
Canal was proposed, but little of it was ever constructed and it was abandoned in 1803.[55]

A steam locomotive and carriages, on the West Somerset
West Somerset
Railway, a heritage line of notable length, in spring 2015

The usefulness of the canals was short-lived, though some have now been restored for recreation. The 19th century also saw the construction of railways to and through Somerset. The county was served by five pre-1923 Grouping railway companies: the Great Western Railway (GWR);[125][126] a branch of the Midland Railway
Midland Railway
(MR) to Bath Green Park (and another one to Bristol);[127] the Somerset
Somerset
and Dorset Joint Railway,[126][128][129] and the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR).[126][130] The former main lines of the GWR are still in use today, although many of its branch lines were scrapped as part of the Beeching cuts. The former lines of the Somerset
Somerset
& Dorset
Dorset
Joint Railway closed completely,[131] as has the branch of the Midland Railway
Midland Railway
to Bath Green Park (and to Bristol
Bristol
St Philips); however, the L&SWR survived as a part of the present West of England
England
Main Line. None of these lines, in Somerset, are electrified. Two branch lines, the West and East Somerset
Somerset
Railways, were rescued and transferred back to private ownership as "heritage" lines. The fifth railway was a short-lived light railway, the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Light Railway. The West Somerset
West Somerset
Mineral Railway carried the iron ore from the Brendon Hills
Brendon Hills
to Watchet. Until the 1960s the piers at Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon, Portishead and Minehead
Minehead
were served by the paddle steamers of P and A Campbell who ran regular services to Barry and Cardiff
Cardiff
as well as Ilfracombe and Lundy
Lundy
Island. The pier at Burnham-on-Sea
Burnham-on-Sea
was used for commercial goods, one of the reasons for the Somerset
Somerset
and Dorset
Dorset
Joint Railway was to provide a link between the Bristol
Bristol
Channel and the English Channel. The pier at Burnham-on-Sea
Burnham-on-Sea
is the shortest pier in the UK.[132] In the 1970s the Royal Portbury Dock
Royal Portbury Dock
was constructed to provide extra capacity for the Port of Bristol. For long-distance holiday traffic travelling through the county to and from Devon
Devon
and Cornwall, Somerset
Somerset
is often regarded as a marker on the journey. North–south traffic moves through the county via the M5 Motorway.[133] Traffic to and from the east travels either via the A303 road, or the M4 Motorway, which runs east–west, crossing the M5 just beyond the northern limits of the county. Education[edit] See also: List of schools in Somerset State schools in Somerset
Somerset
are provided by three local education authorities: Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, and the larger Somerset
Somerset
County Council. All state schools are comprehensive. In some areas primary, infant and junior schools cater for ages four to eleven, after which the pupils move on to secondary schools. There is a three-tier system of first, middle and upper schools in the Cheddar Valley,[134] and in West Somerset, while most other schools in the county use the two-tier system.[135] Somerset
Somerset
has 30 state and 17 independent secondary schools;[136] Bath and North East Somerset
Bath and North East Somerset
has 13 state and 5 independent secondary schools;[137] and North Somerset has 10 state and 2 independent secondary schools, excluding sixth form colleges.[138]

% of pupils gaining 5 grades A-C including English and Maths in 2006 (average for England
England
is 45.8%)

Education Authority %

Bath and North East Somerset
Bath and North East Somerset
(Unitary Authority) 52.0%

West Somerset 51.0%

Taunton
Taunton
Deane 49.5%

Mendip 47.7%

North Somerset
North Somerset
(Unitary Authority) 47.4%

South Somerset 42.3%

Sedgemoor 41.4%

Some of the county's secondary schools have specialist school status. Some schools have sixth forms and others transfer their sixth formers to colleges. Several schools can trace their origins back many years, such as The Blue School in Wells and Richard Huish College in Taunton.[139] Others have changed their names over the years such as Beechen Cliff School
Beechen Cliff School
which was started in 1905 as the City of Bath Boys' School and changed to its present name in 1972 when the grammar school was amalgamated with a local secondary modern school, to form a comprehensive school. Many others were established and built since the Second World War. In 2006, 5,900 pupils in Somerset
Somerset
sat GCSE examinations, with 44.5% achieving 5 grades A-C including English and Maths (compared to 45.8% for England). Sexey's School
Sexey's School
is a state boarding school in Bruton
Bruton
that also takes day pupils from the surrounding area.[140] The Somerset
Somerset
LEA also provides special schools such as Newbury Manor School, which caters for children aged between 10 and 17 with special educational needs.[141] Provision for pupils with special educational needs is also made by the mainstream schools. There is also a range of independent or public schools. Many of these are for pupils between 11 and 18 years, such as King's College, Taunton
Taunton
and Taunton
Taunton
School. King's School, Bruton, was founded in 1519 and received royal foundation status around 30 years later in the reign of Edward VI. Millfield
Millfield
is the largest co-educational boarding school. There are also preparatory schools for younger children, such as All Hallows, and Hazlegrove Preparatory School. Chilton Cantelo School offers places both to day pupils and boarders aged 7 to 16. Other schools provide education for children from the age of 3 or 4 years through to 18, such as King Edward's School, Bath, Queen's College, Taunton
Taunton
and Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral
School which is one of the five established musical schools for school-age children in Britain.[142] Some of these schools have religious affiliations, such as Monkton Combe School, Prior Park College, Sidcot School
Sidcot School
which is associated with the Religious Society of Friends,[143] Downside School
Downside School
which is a Roman Catholic public school in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, situated next to the Benedictine Downside Abbey,[144] and Kingswood School, which was founded by John Wesley
John Wesley
in 1748 in Kingswood near Bristol, originally for the education of the sons of the itinerant ministers (clergy) of the Methodist Church.[145] Further and higher education[edit] A wide range of adult education and further education courses is available in Somerset, in schools, colleges and other community venues. The colleges include Weston College, Bridgwater
Bridgwater
and Taunton College (formed in 2016 when Bridgwater
Bridgwater
College and Somerset
Somerset
College of Arts and Technology merged, and includes the Taunton-based University Centre Somerset), Bath College, Frome
Frome
Community College, Richard Huish College, Strode College
Strode College
and Yeovil
Yeovil
College.[146] Somerset County Council
Somerset County Council
operates Dillington House, a residential adult education college located in Ilminster. The University of Bath, Bath Spa University
Bath Spa University
and University Centre Weston are higher education establishments in the north of the county. The University of Bath
University of Bath
gained its Royal Charter in 1966, although its origins go back to the Bristol
Bristol
Trade School (founded 1856) and Bath School of Pharmacy (founded 1907).[147] It has a purpose-built campus at Claverton on the outskirts of Bath, and has 15,000 students.[148] Bath Spa University, which is based at Newton St Loe, achieved university status in 2005, and has origins including the Bath Academy of Art (founded 1898), Bath Teacher Training College, and the Bath College of Higher Education.[149] It has several campuses and 5,500 students.[150] See also[edit]

Geography portal Europe portal United Kingdom
United Kingdom
portal England
England
portal Somerset
Somerset
portal

Outline of England List of High Sheriffs of Somerset List of hills of Somerset Grade I listed buildings in Somerset List of tourist attractions in Somerset Lord Lieutenant of Somerset West Country English Healthcare in Somerset

Notes[edit]

^ A 6,000-year-old trackway was discovered in Belmarsh prison
Belmarsh prison
in 2009.[15]

References[edit]

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Somerset
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Somerset
Government. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2010.  ^ McKie, Robin (20 June 2010). "Bones from a Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge
cave show that cannibalism helped Britain's earliest settlers survive the ice age". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.  ^ " Aveline's Hole
Aveline's Hole
Discovery". University of Bristol
Bristol
Spelaeological Society. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.  ^ a b Dunning, Robert (1983). A History of Somerset. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. ISBN 0-85033-461-6.  ^ "Somerset". Camelot
Camelot
Village: Britain's Heritage and History. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2006.  ^ Anon (12 August 2009). "London's earliest timber structure found during Belmarsh prison
Belmarsh prison
dig". physorg.com News. PhysOrg.com. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2010.  ^ "The day the Sweet Track
Sweet Track
was built". New Scientist, 16 June 1990. Archived from the original on 11 March 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2010.  ^ Brunning, Richard (2001). "The Somerset
Somerset
Levels." In: Current Archaeology, Vol. XV, (No. 4), Issue Number 172 (Wetlands Special Issue), (February 2001), Pp 139–143. ISSN 0011-3212. ^ "Stanton Drew Stone Circles". English Heritage. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2015.  ^ " Mendip
Mendip
Hills: An Archaeological Survey of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" (PDF). Somerset County Council
Somerset County Council
Archaeological Projects. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2010.  ^ Adkins, Lesley; Rod Adkins (1992). A field guide to Somerset archaeology. Wimborne: Dovecote Press. pp. 72–74. ISBN 0-946159-94-7.  ^ Hucker, Ernest (1997). Chew Stoke
Chew Stoke
Recalled in Old Photographs. Ernest Hucker.  ^ "Roman Baths Treatment Centre". Images of England. Archived from the original on 15 June 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2006.  ^ Lewis, Brenda Ralph; Ford, David Nash. "Narrative History of Saxon Somerset". Britannia. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2007.  ^ Rahtz, Phillip. "The Saxon and Medieval Palaces at Cheddar, Somerset: an Interim Report of Excavations in 1960–62" (PDF). Archaeology Data Service. Retrieved 26 May 2015.  ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Somersetshire". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 390.  ^ "Historic Buildings of Shepton Mallet". Shepton Mallet
Shepton Mallet
Town Council. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2007.  ^ Rodgers, Colonel H. C. B. (1968). Battles and Generals of the Civil Wars. Seeley Service & Co.  ^ " Taunton
Taunton
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Further reading[edit]

Victoria History of the Counties of England – History of the County of Somerset. Oxford: Oxford University Press, for: The Institute of Historical Research.

Note: Volumes I to IX published so far ** Link to on-line version (not all volumes) Volume I: Natural History, Prehistory, Domesday Volume II: Ecclesiastical History, Religious Houses, Political, Maritime, and Social and Economic History, Earthworks, Agriculture, Forestry, Sport. Volume III: Pitney, Somerton, and Tintinhull hundreds. Volume IV: Crewkerne, Martock, and South Petherton hundreds. Volume V: Williton
Williton
and Freemanors hundred. Volume VI: Andersfield, Cannington and North Petherton
North Petherton
hundreds ( Bridgwater
Bridgwater
and neighbouring parishes). Volume VII: Bruton, Horethorne and Norton Ferris Hundreds. Volume VIII: The Poldens and the Levels. Volume IX: Glastonbury
Glastonbury
and Street, Baltonsborough, Butleigh, Compton Dundon, Meare, North Wootton, Podimore, Milton, Walton, West Bradley, and West Pennard.

Adkins, Lesley and Roy (1992). A Field Guide to Somerset
Somerset
Archaeology. Wimborne, Dorset: Dovecote Press. ISBN 978-0-946159-94-9.  Aston, Michael; Burrow, Ian (1982). The Archaeology of Somerset: A review to 1500 AD. Somerset: Somerset
Somerset
County Council. ISBN 0-86183-028-8.  Aston, Michael (1988). Aspects of the Medieval Landscape of Somerset & Contributions to the landscape history of the county. Somerset: Somerset
Somerset
County Council. ISBN 0-86183-129-2.  Bush, Robin (1994). Somerset: The complete guide. Wimborne, Dorset: Dovecote Press. ISBN 1-874336-27-X.  Costen, Michael (1992). The origins of Somerset. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-3675-5.  Croft, Robert; Aston, Mick (1993). Somerset
Somerset
from the air: An aerial Guide to the Heritage of the County. Somerset: Somerset
Somerset
County Council. ISBN 978-0-86183-215-6.  Dunning, Robert (1995). Somerset
Somerset
Castles. Somerset: Somerset
Somerset
Books. ISBN 0-86183-278-7.  Leach, Peter (2001). Roman Somerset. Wimborne, Dorset: The Dovecote Press. ISBN 1-874336-93-8.  Little, Bryan (1983). Portrait of Somerset. London: Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0-7090-0915-1.  Palmer, Kingsley (1976). The Folklore of Somerset. London: Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-3166-0.  Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset
Somerset
Place Names. Wimborne, Dorset: The Dovecote Press Ltd. ISBN 978-1-874336-03-7. 

External links[edit]

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Somerset.

Official Somerset
Somerset
Tourism website Somerset
Somerset
County Council Somerset
Somerset
at Curlie (based on DMOZ)

Somerset
Somerset
at Project Gutenberg Somerset
Somerset
at GENUKI

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somerset.

Neighbouring counties

Severn Estuary Bristol
Bristol
Channel Bristol, Gloucestershire Wiltshire

Bristol
Bristol
Channel Devon

Somerset

Wiltshire

Devon Devon, Dorset Dorset

v t e

Ceremonial county of Somerset

Somerset
Somerset
Portal

Unitary authorities

Bath and North East Somerset North Somerset

Boroughs or districts

Mendip Sedgemoor South Somerset Taunton
Taunton
Deane West Somerset

Major settlements

Axbridge Bath Bridgwater Bruton Burnham-on-Sea Castle Cary Chard Clevedon Crewkerne Dulverton Frome Glastonbury Highbridge Ilminster Keynsham Langport Midsomer Norton Minehead Nailsea North Petherton Portishead Radstock Shepton Mallet Somerton Taunton Watchet Wellington Wells Weston-super-Mare Wincanton Wiveliscombe Yeovil See also: List of civil parishes in Somerset

Rivers

Alham Aller Avill Avon Axe ( Bristol
Bristol
Channel) Axe (Lyme Bay) Badgworthy Water Banwell Barle Brue Cam Brook Cary Chew East Lyn Exe Fivehead Frome Haddeo Hoar Oak Water Holford Horner Huntspill Isle Land Yeo Mells Midford Brook Oare Water Parret Severn Estuary Sheppey Somer Sowy Tone Washford Wellow Brook West Lyn Whitelake Yeo (Congresbury) Yeo (South Somerset)

Topics

Country houses County Council Culture of Somerset Economy of Somerset Flag Geography of Somerset Geology of Somerset Grade I listed buildings Grade II* listed buildings High Sheriff of Somerset History of Somerset Local nature reserves Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Museums National nature reserves Parliamentary constituencies Places Population of major settlements Scheduled monuments Schools SSSIs Transport in Somerset Geographic areas: Blackdown Hills Brendon Hills Chew Valley Exmoor Mendip
Mendip
Hills Polden Hills Quantock Hills Somerset
Somerset
Levels South West Coast Path West Somerset
West Somerset
Coast Path

v t e

1974–1996 ←   Ceremonial counties of England   → current

Bedfordshire Berkshire Bristol Buckinghamshire Cambridgeshire Cheshire Cornwall Cumbria Derbyshire Devon Dorset Durham East Riding of Yorkshire East Sussex Essex Gloucestershire Greater London Greater Manchester Hampshire Herefordshire Hertfordshire Isle of Wight Kent Lancashire Leicestershire Lincolnshire City of London Merseyside Norfolk Northamptonshire Northumberland North Yorkshire Nottinghamshire Oxfordshire Rutland Shropshire Somerset South Yorkshire Staffordshire Suffolk Surrey Tyne and Wear Warwickshire West Midlands West Sussex West Yorkshire Wiltshire Worcestershire

Coordinates: 51°11′N 3°00′W / 51.18°N 3.00°W