Avon Green Belt
The Avon Green Belt known as the Bristol and Bath Green Belt, is a non-statutory green belt environmental and planning policy that regulates urban expansion and development in the countryside surrounding the cities of Bristol and Bath in the South West region of England. It covers areas in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and North East Somerset and Wiltshire; the function of the green belt is to limit urban sprawl and maintain the open character of areas around the Bristol and Bath built up areas, nearby towns and villages. The policy is implemented by local planning authorities on the basis of guidance from central government; the land area of the green belt is 0.5 % of the total land area of England. Much of the green belt lies within the North Somerset and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire districts, with smaller areas in the west of Wiltshire, Mendip district and Bristol. Key towns and villages surrounded by or adjoining the green belt include Thornbury, Chipping Sodbury, Frampton Cotterell, Coalpit Heath, Bradford on Avon, Nailsea, Backwell and Clevedon.
Bristol Airport is surrounded by green belt. The green belt includes parts of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Mendip Hills to the south and the Cotswolds to the east. Responsibility and co-ordination of green belt policy rests with local unitary and district councils as these are the local planning authorities; the Bristol and Bath Green Belt was first established through the county development plans for Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. In Somerset, the policy was adopted locally in 1957 and formally, with ministerial approval, in 1966. Subsequently, the County of Avon structure plan adopted in 1985 confirmed the general extent of the green belt, with some variations, detailed boundaries were reviewed through local plans. In 2002, the draft Joint Structure Plan for the West of England again broadly confirmed the extent of the green belt, set out the following policy: "A Green Belt shall continue to surround and separate Bristol and Bath, will be kept open in order to: check the unrestricted sprawl of the Bristol conurbation and Bath.
In 2017, the Centre for Cities called for more houses to be built on the Bristol greenbelt, saying that it was the only way to address the housing crisis in the area. They noted that there were only space for 4,300 homes on brownfield land, whereas the three local councils in the region aim to build 85,000 over the next twenty years. Interactive map of green belt land
Bath is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Somerset, known for its Roman-built baths. In 2011, the population was 88,859. Bath is in the valley of the River Avon, 97 miles west of London and 11 miles south-east of Bristol; the city became a World Heritage site in 1987. The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis c. 60 AD when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although hot springs were known before then. Bath Abbey became a religious centre. In the 17th century, claims were made for the curative properties of water from the springs, Bath became popular as a spa town in the Georgian era. Georgian architecture, crafted from Bath stone, includes the Royal Crescent, Pump Room and Assembly Rooms where Beau Nash presided over the city's social life from 1705 until his death in 1761. Many of the streets and squares were laid out by John Wood, the Elder, in the 18th century the city became fashionable and the population grew. Jane Austen lived in Bath in the early 19th century.
Further building was undertaken in the 19th century and following the Bath Blitz in World War II. The city has software and service-oriented industries. Theatres and other cultural and sporting venues have helped make it a major centre for tourism, with more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city each year. There are several museums including the Museum of Bath Architecture, the Victoria Art Gallery, the Museum of East Asian Art, the Herschel Museum of Astronomy and the Holburne Museum; the city has two universities – the University of Bath and Bath Spa University – with Bath College providing further education. Sporting clubs include Bath Rugby and Bath City F. C.. Bath became part of the county of Avon in 1974, following Avon's abolition in 1996, has been the principal centre of Bath and North East Somerset; the hills in the locality such as Bathampton Down saw human activity from the Mesolithic period. Several Bronze Age round barrows were opened by John Skinner in the 18th century.
Solsbury Hill overlooking the current city was an Iron Age hill fort, the adjacent Bathampton Camp may have been one. A long barrow site believed to be from the Beaker people was flattened to make way for RAF Charmy Down. Archaeological evidence shows that the site of the Roman baths' main spring may have been treated as a shrine by the Britons, was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. Messages to her scratched onto metal, known as curse tablets, have been recovered from the sacred spring by archaeologists; the tablets were written in Latin, cursed people whom the writers felt had wronged them. For example, if a citizen had his clothes stolen at the baths, he might write a curse, naming the suspects, on a tablet to be read by the goddess. A temple was constructed in AD 60–70, a bathing complex was built up over the next 300 years. Engineers drove oak piles into the mud to provide a stable foundation, surrounded the spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead.
In the 2nd century, the spring was enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted structure that housed the caldarium and frigidarium. The town was given defensive walls in the 3rd century. After the failure of Roman authority in the first decade of the 5th century, the baths fell into disrepair and were lost as a result of rising water levels and silting. In March 2012 a hoard of 30,000 silver Roman coins, one of the largest discovered in Britain, was unearthed in an archaeological dig; the coins, believed to date from the 3rd century, were found about 150 m from the Roman baths. Bath may have been the site of the Battle of Badon, in which King Arthur is said to have defeated the Anglo-Saxons; the town was captured by the West Saxons in 577 after the Battle of Deorham. A monastery was founded at an early date – reputedly by Saint David although more in 675 by Osric, King of the Hwicce using the walled area as its precinct. Nennius, a 9th-century historian, mentions a "Hot Lake" in the land of the Hwicce along the River Severn, adds "It is surrounded by a wall, made of brick and stone, men may go there to bathe at any time, every man can have the kind of bath he likes.
If he wants, it will be a cold bath. Bede described hot baths in the geographical introduction to the Ecclesiastical History in terms similar to those of Nennius. King Offa of Mercia gained control of the monastery in 781 and rebuilt the church, dedicated to St. Peter. According to the Victorian churchman Edward Churton, during the Anglo-Saxon era Bath was known as Acemannesceastre, or'aching men's city', on account of the reputation these springs had for healing the sick. By the 9th century the old Roman street pattern was lost and Bath was a royal possession. King Alfred laid out the town afresh. In the Burghal Hidage, Bath is recorded as a burh and is described as having walls of 1,375 yards and was allocated 1000 men for defence. During the reign of Edward the Elder coins were minted in Bath based on a design from the Winchester mint but with'BAD' on the obverse relating to the Anglo-Saxon name for the town, Baðum, Baðan or Baðon, meaning "at the baths", this was the
The Jurassic period was a geologic period and system that spanned 56 million years from the end of the Triassic Period 201.3 million years ago to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period 145 Mya. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic Era known as the Age of Reptiles; the start of the period was marked by the major Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Two other extinction events occurred during the period: the Pliensbachian-Toarcian extinction in the Early Jurassic, the Tithonian event at the end; the Jurassic period is divided into three epochs: Early and Late. In stratigraphy, the Jurassic is divided into the Lower Jurassic, Middle Jurassic, Upper Jurassic series of rock formations; the Jurassic is named after the Jura Mountains within the European Alps, where limestone strata from the period were first identified. By the beginning of the Jurassic, the supercontinent Pangaea had begun rifting into two landmasses: Laurasia to the north, Gondwana to the south; this created more coastlines and shifted the continental climate from dry to humid, many of the arid deserts of the Triassic were replaced by lush rainforests.
On land, the fauna transitioned from the Triassic fauna, dominated by both dinosauromorph and crocodylomorph archosaurs, to one dominated by dinosaurs alone. The first birds appeared during the Jurassic, having evolved from a branch of theropod dinosaurs. Other major events include the appearance of the earliest lizards, the evolution of therian mammals, including primitive placentals. Crocodilians made the transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic mode of life; the oceans were inhabited by marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, while pterosaurs were the dominant flying vertebrates. The chronostratigraphic term "Jurassic" is directly linked to the Jura Mountains, a mountain range following the course of the France–Switzerland border. During a tour of the region in 1795, Alexander von Humboldt recognized the limestone dominated mountain range of the Jura Mountains as a separate formation that had not been included in the established stratigraphic system defined by Abraham Gottlob Werner, he named it "Jura-Kalkstein" in 1799.
The name "Jura" is derived from the Celtic root *jor via Gaulish *iuris "wooded mountain", borrowed into Latin as a place name, evolved into Juria and Jura. The Jurassic period is divided into three epochs: Early and Late. In stratigraphy, the Jurassic is divided into the Lower Jurassic, Middle Jurassic, Upper Jurassic series of rock formations known as Lias and Malm in Europe; the separation of the term Jurassic into three sections originated with Leopold von Buch. The faunal stages from youngest to oldest are: During the early Jurassic period, the supercontinent Pangaea broke up into the northern supercontinent Laurasia and the southern supercontinent Gondwana; the Jurassic North Atlantic Ocean was narrow, while the South Atlantic did not open until the following Cretaceous period, when Gondwana itself rifted apart. The Tethys Sea closed, the Neotethys basin appeared. Climates were warm, with no evidence of a glacier having appeared; as in the Triassic, there was no land over either pole, no extensive ice caps existed.
The Jurassic geological record is good in western Europe, where extensive marine sequences indicate a time when much of that future landmass was submerged under shallow tropical seas. In contrast, the North American Jurassic record is the poorest of the Mesozoic, with few outcrops at the surface. Though the epicontinental Sundance Sea left marine deposits in parts of the northern plains of the United States and Canada during the late Jurassic, most exposed sediments from this period are continental, such as the alluvial deposits of the Morrison Formation; the Jurassic was a time of calcite sea geochemistry in which low-magnesium calcite was the primary inorganic marine precipitate of calcium carbonate. Carbonate hardgrounds were thus common, along with calcitic ooids, calcitic cements, invertebrate faunas with dominantly calcitic skeletons; the first of several massive batholiths were emplaced in the northern American cordillera beginning in the mid-Jurassic, marking the Nevadan orogeny. Important Jurassic exposures are found in Russia, South America, Japan and the United Kingdom.
In Africa, Early Jurassic strata are distributed in a similar fashion to Late Triassic beds, with more common outcrops in the south and less common fossil beds which are predominated by tracks to the north. As the Jurassic proceeded and more iconic groups of dinosaurs like sauropods and ornithopods proliferated in Africa. Middle Jurassic strata are neither well studied in Africa. Late Jurassic strata are poorly represented apart from the spectacular Tendaguru fauna in Tanzania; the Late Jurassic life of Tendaguru is similar to that found in western North America's Morrison Formation. During the Jurassic period, the primary vertebrates living in the sea were marine reptiles; the latter include ichthyosaurs, which were at the peak of their diversity, plesiosaurs and marine crocodiles of the families Teleosauridae and Metriorhynchidae. Numerous turtles could be found in rivers. In the invertebrate world, several new groups appeared, including rudists (a reef-formi
The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome; the Roman Empire was ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and Ravenna, an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Roman Senate sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople; the fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The previous Republic, which had replaced Rome's monarchy in the 6th century BC, became destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict.
In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and proscriptions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC; the following year Octavian conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, ending the Hellenistic period that had begun with the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Octavian's power was unassailable and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus making him the first emperor; the first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana. It reached its greatest territorial expanse during the reign of Trajan. A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus. In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified under Aurelian. In an effort to stabilize the Empire, Diocletian set up two different imperial courts in the Greek East and Latin West.
Christians rose to power in the 4th century following the Edict of Milan in 313 and the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. Shortly after, the Migration Period involving large invasions by Germanic peoples and the Huns of Attila led to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. With the fall of Ravenna to the Germanic Herulians and the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476 AD by Odoacer, the Western Roman Empire collapsed and it was formally abolished by emperor Zeno in 480 AD; the Eastern Roman Empire, known in the post-Roman West as the Byzantine Empire, collapsed when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Mehmed II in 1453. Due to the Roman Empire's vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, architecture, philosophy and forms of government in the territory it governed Europe; the Latin language of the Romans evolved into the Romance languages of the medieval and modern world, while Medieval Greek became the language of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Its adoption of Christianity led to the formation of Christendom during the Middle Ages. Greek and Roman art had a profound impact on the late medieval Italian Renaissance, while Rome's republican institutions influenced the political development of republics such as the United States and France; the corpus of Roman law has its descendants in many legal systems of the world today, such as the Napoleonic Code. Rome's architectural tradition served as the basis for Neoclassical architecture. Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the republic in the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside the Italian peninsula until the 3rd century BC, it was an "empire" long before it had an emperor. The Roman Republic was not a nation-state in the modern sense, but a network of towns left to rule themselves and provinces administered by military commanders, it was ruled, not by annually elected magistrates in conjunction with the senate. For various reasons, the 1st century BC was a time of political and military upheaval, which led to rule by emperors.
The consuls' military power rested in the Roman legal concept of imperium, which means "command". Successful consuls were given the honorary title imperator, this is the origin of the word emperor since this title was always bestowed to the early emperors upon their accession. Rome suffered a long series of internal conflicts and civil wars from the late second century BC onward, while extending its power beyond Italy; this was the period of the Crisis of the Roman Republic. Towards the end of this era, in 44 BC, Julius Caesar was perpetual dictator before being assassinated; the faction of his assassins was driven from Rome and defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC by an army led by Mark Antony and Caesar's adopted son Octavian. Antony and Octavian's division of the Roman world between themselves did not last and Octavian's forces defeated those of Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, ending the Final War of the Roman Republic. In 27 BC the Senate and People of Rome made Octavian princeps ("first citi
Salisbury Plain is a chalk plateau in the south western part of central southern England covering 300 square miles. It is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk Group and lies within the county of Wiltshire, but stretching into Berkshire and Hampshire; the plain is famous for its rich archaeology, including Stonehenge, one of England's best known landmarks. As a result of the establishment of the Defence Training Estate Salisbury Plain, the plain is sparsely populated and is the largest remaining area of calcareous grassland in north-west Europe. Additionally the plain has arable land, a few small areas of beech trees and coniferous woodland, its highest point is Easton Hill. The boundaries of Salisbury Plain have never been defined, there is some difference of opinion as to its exact area; the river valleys surrounding it, other downs and plains beyond them loosely define its boundaries. To the north the scarp of the downs overlooks the Vale of Pewsey, to the north west the Bristol Avon.
The River Wylye runs along the south west, the Bourne runs to the east. The Hampshire Avon runs through the eastern half of the plain and to the south the plain peters out as the river valleys close together before meeting at Salisbury. From here the Avon continues south to the English Channel at Christchurch; the Hampshire Downs and the Berkshire Downs are chalk downland to the east and north of Salisbury Plain, the Dorset Downs is to the south west. In the west and north west the geology is of the clays and limestones of the Blackmore Vale, Avon Vale and Vale of Wardour. Amesbury is considered the largest settlement on the plain, though there are a number of small villages, such as Tilshead and Shrewton in the middle of the plain, as well as various hamlets and army camps; the A303 road runs along the southern area of the plain, while the A345 and the A360 cut across the centre. Salisbury Plain is famous for its archaeology. In the Neolithic period Stone Age people began to settle on the plain, most centred around the causewayed enclosure of Robin Hood's Ball.
Large long barrows like White Barrow and other earthworks were built across the plain. By 2500 BC areas around Durrington Walls and Stonehenge had become a focus for building, the southern part of the plain continued to be settled into the Bronze Age. Around 600 BC Iron Age Hill forts came to be constructed around the boundaries of the plain, including Scratchbury Camp and Battlesbury Camp to the south west, Bratton Camp to the north west, Casterley Camp to the north and Vespasian's Camp to the south, Sidbury Hill to the east. Roman roads are visible features serving a settlement near Old Sarum. Villas are sparse and Anglo-Saxon place names suggest that the plain was a grain-producing imperial estate. In the 6th century Anglo-Saxon incomers built planned settlements in the valleys surrounded by strip lynchets, with the downland left as sheep pasture. To the south is the city of Salisbury, whose 13th and 14th century cathedral is famous for having the tallest spire in the country, the building was, for many centuries, the tallest building in Britain.
The cathedral is evidence of the prosperity the cloth trade brought to the area. In the mid-19th century the wool and cloth industry began to decline, leading to a decline in the population and change in land use from sheep farming to agriculture and military use. Wiltshire became one of the poorest counties in England during this period of decline. There are a number of chalk carvings on the plain, of which the most famous is the Westbury White Horse; the Kennet and Avon Canal was constructed through the Vale of Pewsey. In September 1896, George Kemp and Guglielmo Marconi experimented with wireless telegraphy on Salisbury Plain, achieved good results over a distance of 1.25 miles. Media related to Army Training Estate Salisbury Plain at Wikimedia Commons The military training area covers half of the plain; the army first conducted exercises on the plain in 1898. From that time, the Ministry of Defence bought up large areas of land until the Second World War; the MoD now own 150 square miles of land, making it the largest military training area in the United Kingdom.
Of this, around 39 square miles are permanently closed to the public, access is restricted in other areas. As of 2016, the largest camps and barracks are at Larkhill, Tidworth, Trenchard Lines and Warminster. Several installations have been built and since removed, including a railway line and aerodrome that were constructed next to Stonehenge. In 1943 the village of Imber and the hamlet of Hinton Parva were evacuated to allow training for Operation Overlord to be conducted. Whilst the inhabitants of Hinton Parva were allowed to return at the end of hostilities, Imber village has remained closed, except for an annual church service and some bank holidays; the Royal School of Artillery is based at Larkhill, live firing is conducted on the plain for 340 days of each year. Military personnel from the UK and around the world spend some 600,000-man days on the plain every year; the DTE SP is located close to other military facilities including the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, Boscombe Down airfield and Middle Wallop Army Air Corps Base, where pilots train on the Westland Apache.
20,000 hectares are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation, the entire SP is a Special Protection Area for birds. BFBS Radio broadcasts from studios on Marlborough Road, Bulford, on DAB, FM and satellite
South Western Ambulance Service
The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is the organisation responsible for providing ambulance services for the National Health Service across South West England. On March 1, 2011 SWASFT was the first ambulance service in the country to become a Foundation Trust; the Trust acquired neighbouring Great Western Ambulance Service on 1 February 2013. SWASFT serves a population of more than 5.47 million, its area is estimated to receive an influx of over 17.5 million visitors each year. The operational area is predominantly rural but has large urban centres including Bristol, Exeter, Bath, Gloucester and Poole; the headquarters for the service is in Exeter and the service has 96 ambulance stations and 6 air bases. The Chief Executive is Ken Wenman, appointed on 1 July 2006 on creation of the trust, having served as the Chief Executive of the former Dorset Ambulance Service NHS Trust; the Trust’s core operations include: Emergency ambulance 999 services Urgent Care Services – GP out-of-hours medical care NHS 111 call-handling and triage services Tiverton Urgent Care Centre.
It is one of ten Ambulance Trusts providing England with emergency medical services and employs more than 4,500 clinical and operational staff. In addition there are around 3,200 volunteers including community first responders, BASICS doctors, fire co-responders and patient transport drivers; the Trust is one of the largest in England. It covers 827 miles of coastline. In 2015/16 one in eight 999 calls to South Western Ambulance Service were treated over the telephone. "Hear and treat", where the patient receives clinical advice over the telephone, accounted for 12.7% of calls. For 36.4% of incidents the patients experienced "see and treat", when the patient receives treatment or advice at the scene of the incident. In a further 7.7% of incidents, the patient was taken to a non-emergency hospital department such as a community hospital or minor injuries unit. The remaining incidents resulted in a patient being taken to a hospital emergency department, thus the majority of incidents resulted in a patient not being conveyed.
SWASFT is the best performing ambulance service in the country for non-conveyance rates. In addition 62% of patients taken to hospital are admitted – this is again the highest performance for an ambulance trust in the country; this means that when SWASFT takes a patient to an emergency department they are to be admitted, not treated and discharged, therefore confirming, the right place for them to receive the care they need. There are 96 ambulance stations, six air ambulance bases, three clinical control rooms, two Hazardous Area Response Team bases and one boat across the South Western Ambulance Service operational area. In 2016 the Care Quality Commission told the South Western Ambulance Service to make significant improvements in the NHS 111 service; the inspection of the trust in 2016 identified several areas. In 2018 the trust said it would need an extra £12 million a year to meet the new ambulance performance standards; the number of compliments received by the Trust in 2014/15 increased by 41% to 2,055 while complaints rose by 20% to 1,268.
The Trust is split into three divisions: West Division: covering Devon and Cornwall, including its Headquarters at Exeter East Division: covering Somerset and Dorset North Division: consisting of the footprint of the former Great Western Ambulance Service as well as the Burnham-on-sea and Shepton Mallet stationsThe Trust has 96 ambulance stations among the counties that it serves: Cornwall Devon Dorset Somerset Avon Wiltshire Gloucestershire 306 - 999 Emergency Ambulances 57 Patient Transport Ambulances 234 Rapid Response Vehicles 7 Rapid Response Motorcycles 5 Bicycles 2 Hazardous Area Response Teams 1 Boat – ALN 043'Star of Life’ Wave Saver 1000 Class Ambulance Boat SWASFT provides the non-emergency 111 helpline and triage service for Dorset. In May 2014 the Trust won a contract to run a doctor-led minor injuries unit at Tiverton and District Hospital, open seven days a week. Patients do not need an appointment to visit the centre, which provides treatment for minor injuries and ailments including: Cuts and wounds.
Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire; the county town was Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge. Wiltshire is characterised by its high wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being the location of the Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks, as a training area for the British Army; the city of Salisbury is notable for its medieval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, the National Trust's Stourhead, near Mere; the county, in the 9th century written as Wiltunscir Wiltonshire, is named after the former county town of Wilton. Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology; the Mesolithic and Bronze Age people that occupied southern Britain built settlements on the hills and downland that cover Wiltshire. Stonehenge and Avebury are the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK.
In the 6th and 7th centuries Wiltshire was at the western edge of Saxon Britain, as Cranborne Chase and the Somerset Levels prevented the advance to the west. The Battle of Bedwyn was fought in 675 between Escuin, a West Saxon nobleman who had seized the throne of Queen Saxburga, King Wulfhere of Mercia. In 878 the Danes invaded the county. Following the Norman Conquest, large areas of the country came into the possession of the crown and the church. At the time of the Domesday Survey the industry of Wiltshire was agricultural. In the succeeding centuries sheep-farming was vigorously pursued, the Cistercian monastery of Stanley exported wool to the Florentine and Flemish markets in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 17th century English Civil War Wiltshire was Parliamentarian; the Battle of Roundway Down, a Royalist victory, was fought near Devizes. In 1794 it was decided at a meeting at the Bear Inn in Devizes to raise a body of ten independent troops of Yeomanry for the county of Wiltshire, which formed the basis for what would become the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, who served with distinction both at home and abroad, during the Boer War, World War I and World War II.
The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry lives on as Y Squadron, based in Swindon, B Squadron, based in Salisbury, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry. Around 1800 the Kennet and Avon Canal was built through Wiltshire, providing a route for transporting cargoes from Bristol to London until the development of the Great Western Railway. Information on the 261 civil parishes of Wiltshire is available on Wiltshire Council's Wiltshire Community History website which has maps, demographic data and modern pictures and short histories; the local nickname for Wiltshire natives is "Moonrakers". This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise men by hiding their alcohol French brandy in barrels or kegs, in a village pond; when confronted by the excise men they raked the surface to conceal the submerged contraband with ripples, claimed that they were trying to rake in a large round cheese visible in the pond a reflection of the full moon. The officials took them for simple yokels or mad and left them alone, allowing them to continue with their illegal activities.
Many villages claim the tale for their own village pond, but the story is most linked with The Crammer in Devizes. Two-thirds of Wiltshire, a rural county, lies on chalk, a kind of soft, porous limestone, resistant to erosion, giving it a high chalk downland landscape; this chalk is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk Group and stretching from the Dorset Downs in the west to Dover in the east. The largest area of chalk in Wiltshire is Salisbury Plain, used for arable agriculture and by the British Army as training ranges; the highest point in the county is the Tan Hill–Milk Hill ridge in the Pewsey Vale, just to the north of Salisbury Plain, at 295 m above sea level. The chalk uplands run northeast into West Berkshire in the Marlborough Downs ridge, southwest into Dorset as Cranborne Chase. Cranborne Chase, which straddles the border, like Salisbury Plain, yielded much Stone Age and Bronze Age archaeology; the Marlborough Downs are part of a 1,730 km2 conservation area.
In the northwest of the county, on the border with South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset, the underlying rock is the resistant oolite limestone of the Cotswolds. Part of the Cotswolds AONB is in Wiltshire, in the county's northwestern corner. Between the areas of chalk and limestone downland are clay vales; the largest of these vales is the Avon Vale. The Avon cuts diagonally through the north of the county, flowing through Bradford-on-Avon and into Bath and Bristol; the Vale of Pewsey has been cut through the chalk into Greensand and Oxford Clay in the centre of the county. In the south west of the county is the Vale of Wardour; the southeast of the county lies on the sandy soils of the northernmost area of the New Forest. Chalk is a porous rock, so the chalk hills have little surface water; the main settlements in the county are therefore situated at wet points. Notably, Salisbury is situated between the chalk of marshy flood plains; the county has green belt along its western fringes as a part of the extensive Avon green belt, reaching as far as the outskirts of Rudloe/Corsham and Trowbridge, preventing urban spr