The Cotswolds ( KOTS-wohldz, KOTS-wəldz) is a region in central South West England, along a range of rolling hills that rise from the meadows of the upper River Thames to an escarpment above the Severn Valley, Bath and Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the bedrock of Jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden-coloured Cotswold stone. The predominantly rural landscape contains stone-built villages, towns, stately homes and gardens featuring the local stone.

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966, the Cotswolds covers 787 square miles (2,038 km2), making it the largest AONB. It is England's third-largest protected landscape, after the Lake District and Yorkshire Da...Read more

The Cotswolds ( KOTS-wohldz, KOTS-wəldz) is a region in central South West England, along a range of rolling hills that rise from the meadows of the upper River Thames to an escarpment above the Severn Valley, Bath and Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the bedrock of Jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden-coloured Cotswold stone. The predominantly rural landscape contains stone-built villages, towns, stately homes and gardens featuring the local stone.

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966, the Cotswolds covers 787 square miles (2,038 km2), making it the largest AONB. It is England's third-largest protected landscape, after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks. Its boundaries are roughly 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (140 km) long, stretching south-west from just south of Stratford-upon-Avon to just south of Bath, near Radstock. It lies across the boundaries of several English counties; mainly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire. The region's highest point is Cleeve Hill at 1,083 ft (330 m), just east of Cheltenham.

The hills give their name to the Cotswold local government district, formed on 1 April 1974, within the county of Gloucestershire. Its main town is Cirencester, where the Cotswold District Council offices are. As of 2021, the population of the 450-square-mile (1,200 km2) district was about 91,000 . The much larger area referred to as the Cotswolds encompasses nearly 800 square miles (2,100 km2). The population of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was 139,000 in 2016.

The largest excavation of Jurassic period echinoderm fossils, including of rare and previously unknown species, occurred at a quarry in the Cotswolds in 2021.[1][2] There is evidence of Neolithic settlement from burial chambers on Cotswold Edge, and there are remains of Bronze and Iron Age forts.[3] Later the Romans built villas, such as at Chedworth,[4] settlements such as Gloucester, and paved the Celtic path later known as Fosse Way.[5]

During the Middle Ages, thanks to the breed of sheep known as the Cotswold Lion, the Cotswolds became prosperous from the wool trade with the continent, with much of the money made from wool directed towards the building of churches. The most successful era for the wool trade was 1250–1350; much of the wool at that time was sold to Italian merchants. The area still preserves numerous large, handsome Cotswold Stone "wool churches". The affluent area in the 21st century has attracted wealthy Londoners and others who own second homes there or have chosen to retire to the Cotswolds.[6]

Etymology

The name Cotswold is popularly believed to mean the "sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides",[7][8] incorporating the term wold, meaning hills. Compare also the Weald, from the Old English term meaning 'forest'. But for many years the English Place-Name Society has accepted that the term Cotswold is derived from Codesuualt of the 12th century or other variations on this form, the etymology of which is "Cod's-wold", meaning "Cod's high open land".[9] Cod was interpreted as an Old English personal name, which may be recognised in further names: Cutsdean, Codeswellan, and Codesbyrig, some of which date to the 8th century.[10] It has subsequently been noticed that Cod could derive philologically from a Brittonic female cognate Cuda, a hypothetical mother goddess in Celtic mythology postulated to have been worshipped in the Cotswold region.[11][12]

^ "'Part-time adventurers': amateur fossil hunters get record haul in Cotswolds". The Guardian. 20 July 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2021. ^ "'Jurassic Pompeii' yields thousands of 'squiggly wiggly' fossils". BBC News. 21 July 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2021. ^ Carolione Mills (15 April 2011). Slow Cotswolds. Bradt Travel Guides. p. vii. ISBN 9781841623443. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. ^ Andrew McCloy, Andrew Midgley (2008). Discovering Roman Britain. New Holland Publishers. p. 90. ISBN 9781847731289. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. ^ Hayley Dixon (9 October 2013). "'Roman' roads were actually built by the Celts, new book claims". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. ^ Cite error: The named reference butterfield.com was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ "The Kingscote, Gloucestershire area". Kingscote Park. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2012. ^ Charnock, Richard Stephen (1859). Local etymology: a derivative dictionary of geographical names. Houlston and Wright. p. 76. ^ Smith, A. H. (1964) The Place-Names of Gloucestershire, part 1: "The Rivers and Road-names, the East Cotswolds," Cambridge, p.2 ^ Smith A. H. 1964 The Place-Names of Gloucestershire part 2: The North and West Cotswolds, Cambridge pp. 7–8 ^ Yeates, S. J. (2008) The Tribe of Witches: The Religion of the Dobunni and the Hwicce, pp. 11–18 ^ Yeates, S. J. (2006) "River-Names, Celtic and Old English: Their Dual Medieval and Post-medieval Personalities," Journal of the English Place-Name Society 38, pp.63–81
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