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The county of Somerset

What there is to know about the county of Somerset…

The county of Somerset is located in the South West of England and is a diverse county offering a huge array of beaches, local produce and wonderful visitor attractions. It borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south east and Devon to the south west. With its rolling hills as wells as seaside resorts, it is a popular holiday destination with a variety of iconic landmarks and monuments to explore.

county of Somerset cheddar

Population

Approximately 530,000 people live in the county of Somerset with a higher than average population growth. More than 25% of the county’s residents live in BridgwaterTaunton or Yeovil.

The history

The history of Somerset dates as far back as the Stone Age period.

Cheddar Caves and the Mendip Hills have fascinating insights into the history of the county, including the Cheddar Man- a complete human skeleton dating back as far as 7150 BC.

Somerset has also been inhabited by many settlements during the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age periods. The Romans invaded in AD 47 and remained part of the empire until the end of their ruling in AD 409. The Anglo-Saxons were the next to invade, however Somerset avoided any sort of takeover until the early eighth century. This was followed by the Norman Conquest.

The county of Somerset was not really affected by the Industrial Revolution and farming continued to prosper. Coal mining was very important during the 18th and 19th century but all pits had closed by the end of 1973.

Geography and ecology

county of Somerset wsm

Somerset boasts a number of hills which are designated Outstanding Areas of Natural Beauty. These include the Blackdown Hills, Mendip HillsQuantock Hills and the Exmoor National Park.

The Somerset Levels form an area of wetland which is mainly peat moors and marine clay levels.

Dunkery Beacon is situated in Somerset which is the highest point of Exmoor and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Somerset is home to 64km of coastline featuring the coastal towns of Burnham-on-SeaWatchet and Weston-super-Mare.

Cities, towns, and villages

county of Somerset bath

The county of Somerset borders the city of Bristol and has two cities of its own – Bath and Wells . Its’ county town is Taunton.

Other towns include Yeovil, Bridgwater, Weston-Super-Mare and Chard. Some of the Somerset settlements established themselves close to rivers, namely the River Axe running through Axbridge and the River Cary, running through Castle Cary.

Climate

Somerset has a moderate climate and can be milder than the rest of the country. During the winter, you can expect spells of rain and an occasional scattering of snow. July and August are the county’s warmest months with temperatures averaging around 21°c.

Transport links

Somerset is linked by a motorway, a selection of train lines and Bristol Airport. For those travelling by car, the M5 and the main A roads (A303, A37, A38 and A39) have good access. Great Western Railway provides the service from London to the West Country calling at Castle Cary and Taunton. South Western Railway operates the South Western franchise. National and international flights fly in and out of Bristol Airport, which is easily accessible.

Economy

Farming has always been a major form of income for Somerset, mainly with sheep rearing for wool and cattle farming for dairy. Tourism is now an essential industry to the county of Somerset, with seaside resorts such as Minehead and Weston-super-Mare which attract holidaymakers to the area.

Culture

county of Somerset pilton

Somerset is a vibrant county with its music, literature and art connections. The Glastonbury Music Festival is very well established in the village of Pilton. Landscapes have inspired famous authors and poets throughout the centuries and cave art has been found dating back to 7000 BC.

Other festivals that are very popular, include Bath Literature Festival, Frome Festival and the Wells Literature Festival.

Somerset is home to 11,500 listed buildings and 532 scheduled monuments, a further 36 English Heritage Sites and 19 National Trust sites. You will also find a variety of museums, including the Jane Austen Centre, the Roman Baths and the American Museum in Britain.

Food and Drink

county of Somerset market

The county of Somerset is famous for cheese and cider. The county is home to a variety of household names including Blackthorn and Thatcher’s for cider and Ilchester Cheese, Cathedral City for cheese.

Famous people from the county of Somerset

  • John Cleese (actor)
  • Billy Bailey (comedian)
  • Vanessa White from the Saturdays (pop singer)
  • Jenson Button (F1 driver)
  • Jaqueline Wilson (author)
  • Arthur C Clarke (author)
  • Michael Eavis (Glastonbury founder)