Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, the twentieth-largest on Earth. Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers five-sixths of the island, Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain. Just under 4.8 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland. The island's geography comprises low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland, its lush vegetation is a product of its mild but changeable climate, free of extremes in temperature. Much of Ireland was woodland until the end of the Middle Ages. Today, woodland makes up about 10% of the island, compared with a European average of over 33%, most of it is non-native conifer plantations.
There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to Ireland. The Irish climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and thus moderate, winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area, although summers are cooler than those in continental Europe. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant; the earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC. Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century AD; the island was Christianised from the 5th century onward. Following the 12th century Norman invasion, England claimed sovereignty. However, English rule did not extend over the whole island until the 16th–17th century Tudor conquest, which led to colonisation by settlers from Britain. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, was extended during the 18th century. With the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became sovereign over the following decades, Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom.
Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973 the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community while the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, as part of it, did the same. Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures in the field of literature. Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music and the Irish language; the island's culture shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, sports such as association football, horse racing, golf. The names Éire derive from Old Irish Eriu; this in turn comes from the Proto-Celtic *Iveriu, the source of Latin Hibernia. Iveriu derives from a root meaning'fat, prosperous'. During the last glacial period, up until about 10,000 BC, most of Ireland was periodically covered in ice. Sea levels were lower and Ireland, like Great Britain, formed part of continental Europe.
By 16,000 BC, rising sea levels due to ice melting caused Ireland to become separated from Great Britain. Around 6000 BC, Great Britain itself became separated from continental Europe; the earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC, demonstrated by a butchered bear bone found in a cave in County Clare. It is not until about 8000 BC, that more sustained occupation of the island has been shown, with evidence for Mesolithic communities around the island; these Mesolithic communities lived as hunter-gatherers across the island until about 4000 BC. Some time before 4000 BC, Neolithic settlers arrived introducing cereal cultivars, domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, large timber building, stone monuments; the earliest evidence for farming in Ireland or Great Britain is from Co.. Kerry, where a flint knife, cattle bones and a sheep's tooth were carbon-dated to c. 4350 BC. Field systems were developed in different parts of Ireland, including at the Céide Fields, preserved beneath a blanket of peat in present-day Tyrawley.
An extensive field system, arguably the oldest in the world, consisted of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls. The fields were farmed for several centuries between 3500 BC and 3000 BC. Wheat and barley were the principal crops; the Bronze Age – defined by the use of metal – began around 2500 BC, with technology changing people's everyday lives during this period through innovations such as the wheel. According to John T. Koch and others, Ireland in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-network culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age that included Britain, western France and Iberia, that this is where Celtic languages developed; this contrasts with the traditional view that their origin lies in mainland Europe with the Hallstatt culture. During the Iron Age, a Celtic language and culture emerged in Ireland. How and when the island became Celtic has been debated for close to a century, with the migrations of the Celts being one of the more enduring themes of archaeological and linguistic studies.
The most recent genetic research s
East Anglia is a geographical area in the East of England. The area included has varied but the defined NUTS 2 statistical unit comprises the counties of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, including the City of Peterborough unitary authority area; the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Angles, a tribe whose name originated in Anglia, northern Germany. Definitions of what constitutes; the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of East Anglia, established in the 6th century consisted of the modern counties of Norfolk and Suffolk and expanded west into at least part of Cambridgeshire. The modern NUTS 2 statistical unit of East Anglia comprises Norfolk and Cambridgeshire; those three counties have formed the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia since 1976, were the subject of a possible government devolution package in 2016. Essex has sometimes been included in definitions of East Anglia, including by the London Society of East Anglians. However, the Kingdom of Essex to the south, was a separate element of the Heptarchy of Anglo-Saxon England and did not identify as Angles but Saxons.
The county of Essex by itself forms a NUTS 2 statistical unit in the East of England region. Other definitions of the area have been proposed over the years. For example, the Redcliffe-Maud Report in 1969, which followed the Royal Commission on the Reform of Local Government, recommended the creation of eight provinces in England; the proposed East Anglia province would have included northern Essex, southern Lincolnshire and a small part of Northamptonshire as well as Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. The kingdom of East Anglia consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of the East Anglian princess Etheldreda, the Isle of Ely became part of the kingdom; the kingdom was formed about the year 520 by the merging of the North and the South Folk and was one of the seven Anglo-Saxon heptarchy kingdoms. For a brief period following a victory over the rival kingdom of Northumbria around the year 616, East Anglia was the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England, its King Raedwald was Bretwalda.
However, this did not last and over the next forty years East Anglia was defeated by the Mercians twice and continued to weaken in relation to the other kingdoms. In 794, Offa of Mercia had king Æthelberht killed and took control of the kingdom himself. Although independence was temporarily restored by rebellion in 825, on 20 November 869 the Danes killed King Edmund and captured the kingdom. By 917, after a succession of Danish defeats, East Anglia was incorporated into the Kingdom of England by Edward the Elder, afterwards becoming an earldom. Despite some engineering work in the form of sea barriers constructed by the Roman Empire, much of East Anglia remained marshland and bogs until the 17th century. From this point onward a series of systematic drainage projects using drains and river diversions along the lines of Dutch practice, converted the alluvial land into wide swathes of productive arable land. In the 1630s thousands of Puritan families from East Anglia settled in the American region of New England, taking much East Anglian culture with them that can still be traced today.
East Anglia, which based much of its earnings on wool and arable farming, was a rich area of England until the effects of the Industrial Revolution saw manufacturing and development shift to the Midlands and the North. During the Second World War, the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces constructed many airbases in East Anglia for the heavy bomber fleets of the Combined Bomber Offensive against Nazi-occupied Europe. East Anglia was ideally suited to airfield construction as it comprises large areas of open, level terrain and is close to mainland Europe; the reduced flight time to mainland Europe therefore reduced the fuel load required and enabled a larger bomb load to be carried. Building the airfields was a massive civil engineering project and by the end of the war there was one every 8 miles. Many of these airfields can still be seen today from aerial photographs, a few remain in use today, the most prominent being Norwich International Airport. Pillboxes, which were erected in 1940 to help defend the nation against invasion, can be found throughout the area at strategic points.
East Anglia is bordered to the north and east by the North Sea, to the south by the estuary of the River Thames and shares an undefined land border to the west with the rest of England. Much of northern East Anglia is flat, low-lying and marshy, although the extensive drainage projects of the past centuries make this one of the driest areas in the UK. Inland much of the rest of Suffolk and Norfolk is undulating, with glacial moraine ridges providing some areas of steeper areas relief; the supposed flatness of the Norfolk landscape is noted in literature, such as Noël Coward's Private Lives – "Very flat, Norfolk". On the north-west corner East Anglia is bordered by a bay known as The Wash, where owing to deposits of sediment and land reclamation, the coastline has altered markedly within historical times. Conversely, over to the east on the coast exposed to the North Sea the coastline is subject to rapid erosion and has shifted inland since historic times. Major rivers include Suffolk's Stour, running through country beloved of the painter John Const
Cornwall is a county in South West England in the United Kingdom. The county is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar which forms most of the border between them. Cornwall forms the westernmost part of the South West Peninsula of the island of Great Britain; the furthest southwestern point of Great Britain is Land's End. Cornwall has a population of 563,600 and covers an area of 3,563 km2; the county has been administered since 2009 by Cornwall Council. The ceremonial county of Cornwall includes the Isles of Scilly, which are administered separately; the administrative centre of Cornwall, its only city, is Truro. Cornwall is the homeland of the Cornish people and the cultural and ethnic origin of the Cornish diaspora, it retains a distinct cultural identity that reflects its history, is recognised as one of the Celtic nations. It was a Brythonic kingdom and subsequently a royal duchy; the Cornish nationalist movement contests the present constitutional status of Cornwall and seeks greater autonomy within the United Kingdom in the form of a devolved legislative Cornish Assembly with powers similar to those in Wales and Scotland.
In 2014, Cornish people were granted minority status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, giving them recognition as a distinct ethnic group. First inhabited in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, Cornwall continued to be occupied by Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples, by Brythons with strong ethnic, linguistic and cultural links to Wales and Brittany the latter of, settled by Britons from the region. Mining in Cornwall and Devon in the south-west of England began in the early Bronze Age. Few Roman remains have been found in Cornwall, there is little evidence that the Romans settled or had much military presence there. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Cornwall was a part of the Brittonic kingdom of Dumnonia, ruled by chieftains of the Cornovii who may have included figures regarded as semi-historical or legendary, such as King Mark of Cornwall and King Arthur, evidenced by folklore traditions derived from the Historia Regum Britanniae.
The Cornovii division of the Dumnonii tribe were separated from their fellow Brythons of Wales after the Battle of Deorham in 577 AD, came into conflict with the expanding English kingdom of Wessex. The regions of Dumnonia outside of Cornwall had been annexed by the English by 838 AD. King Athelstan in 936 AD set the boundary between the English and Cornish at the high water mark of the eastern bank of the River Tamar. From the early Middle Ages and culture were shared by Brythons trading across both sides of the Channel, resulting in the corresponding high medieval Breton kingdoms of Domnonée and Cornouaille and the Celtic Christianity common to both areas. Tin mining was important in the Cornish economy. In the mid-19th century, the tin and copper mines entered a period of decline. Subsequently, china clay extraction became more important, metal mining had ended by the 1990s. Traditionally and agriculture were the other important sectors of the economy. Railways led to a growth of tourism in the 20th century.
Cornwall is noted for coastal scenery. A large part of the Cornubian batholith is within Cornwall; the north coast has many cliffs. The area is noted for its wild moorland landscapes, its long and varied coastline, its attractive villages, its many place-names derived from the Cornish language, its mild climate. Extensive stretches of Cornwall's coastline, Bodmin Moor, are protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the modern English name Cornwall is a compound of two ancient demonyms coming from two different language groups: Corn- originates from the Brythonic tribe, the Cornovii. The Celtic word "kernou" is cognate with the English word "horn". -wall derives from the Old English exonym walh, meaning "foreigner" or "Roman". In the Cornish language, Cornwall is known as Kernow which stems from a similar linguistic background; the present human history of Cornwall begins with the reoccupation of Britain after the last Ice Age. The area now known as Cornwall was first inhabited in the Mesolithic periods.
It continued to be occupied by Neolithic and Bronze Age people. According to John T. Koch and others, Cornwall in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-networked culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age, in modern-day Ireland, Wales, France and Portugal. During the British Iron Age, like all of Britain, was inhabited by a Celtic people known as the Britons with distinctive cultural relations to neighbouring Brittany; the Common Brittonic spoken at the time developed into several distinct tongues, including Cornish, Breton and Pictish. The first account of Cornwall comes from the 1st-century BC Sicilian Greek historian Diodorus Siculus quoting or paraphrasing the 4th-century BCE geographer P
William Frederick Yeames
William Frederick Yeames was a British painter best known for his oil-on-canvas problem picture "And When Did You Last See Your Father?", which depicts the son of a Royalist being questioned by Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. Yeames was born in Taganrog, the son of a British consul based in Russia. After the death of his father in 1842, Yeames was sent to school in Dresden where he began studying painting. After a change in the fortunes of his family, they moved to London in 1848. Yeames took art lessons from F. A. Westmacott. In 1852 he journeyed to Florence where he studied with Raphael Buonajuti. During his time there he painted at the Life School at the Grand Ducal Academy, drawing from frescoes by Andrea del Sarto and Gozzoli. Continuing on to Rome, he painted landscape studies and copied Old Masters, including the frescoes of Raphael in the Vatican. Returning to London in 1859, he set up a studio in Park Place and, with Philip Hermogenes Calderon, Frederick Goodall and George Adolphus Storey, formed the loose association of artists known as the St John's Wood Clique.
The group concentrated on subjects of a historical nature and narrative paintings in which the story was revealed by close study of the actions and expressions of the subjects. In Yeames's work this technique evolved into the genre known as the problem picture, in which the narrative of the image creates an unresolved dilemma or paradox for the viewer. In 1905 he painted a mural for the Royal Exchange, London The Foundation of St Paul’s School, 1509. Yeames married on 18 August 1865 Anne Winfield, daughter of Major James Stainbank Winfield of the East India Company. While their work was popular with the public, the St John's Wood Clique found it difficult to get their work displayed at prestigious galleries and the Royal Academy of Arts, because it never received critical acclaim. Yeames managed to overcome this problem and from 1859 exhibited at the Royal Academy and was made an Associate in 1866. Unlike other artist circles of the time, the St John's Wood Clique did not lead a bohemian lifestyle.
He and Goodall specialized in Tudor and Stuart subjects, but did not always portray the events they depicted with historical accuracy - instead using them as inspiration. He died in Teignmouth, Devon on 3 May 1918. In 2000, a blue plaque commemorating Yeames was installed at his former home, 8 Campbell Road, London, where he lived from 1894 until 1912; the oil-on-canvas picture, painted in 1878, depicts a scene in an imaginary Royalist household during the English Civil War. The Parliamentarians have question the son about his Royalist father. Yeames was inspired to paint the picture to show the crises that could arise from the natural frankness of young children. Here, if the boy tells the truth he will endanger his father, but if he lies he will go against the ideal of honesty undoubtedly instilled in him by his parents; the boy in the pictures is based on Thomas Gainsborough's painting The Blue Boy. It was modelled by James Lambe Yeames. Behind the boy, there is a girl the daughter, waiting her turn to be questioned.
The girl was based on Mary Yeames. At the back of the hall the mother and elder daughter wait anxiously on the boy's reply; the scene is neutral: while the innocence of the boy is emphasized by his blond hair, open expression and blue suit, the questioners are treated sympathetically. The painting is at the Walker Art Gallery, having been bought in 1878, just a year after the gallery opened in 1877. Madame Tussauds in London has a life-size waxwork tableau of the scene, faithfully reproduced from the painting. Macaulay, Jennie. A.", The Forbes collection of Victorian Pictures and Works of Art by Christie's, Invaluable, LLC, 19 February 2003
Château de Chinon
Château de Chinon is a castle located on the bank of the Vienne river in Chinon, France. It was founded by Count of Blois. In the 11th century the castle became the property of the counts of Anjou. In 1156 Henry II of England, a member of the House of Anjou, took the castle from his brother Geoffrey, Count of Nantes after Geoffrey had rebelled for a second time. Henry favoured the Château de Chinon as a residence. Most of the standing structure can be attributed to his reign and he died there in 1189. Early in the 13th century, King Philip II of France harassed the English lands in France and in 1205 he captured Chinon after a siege that lasted several months, after which the castle remained under French control; when King Philip IV accused the Knights Templar of heresy during the first decade of the 14th century, several leading members of the order were imprisoned there. Used by Charles VII in the 15th century, the Château de Chinon became a prison in the second half of the 16th century, but fell out of use and was left to decay.
It has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840. The castle, which contains a museum, is now owned and managed by the Indre-et-Loire General Council and is a major tourist attraction. In the early 21st century it was restored at a cost of €14.5 million. The settlement of Chinon is on the bank of the Vienne river about 10 kilometres from where it joins the Loire. From prehistoric times, when the settlement of Chinon originated, rivers formed the major trade routes, the Vienne joins the fertile southern plains of the Poitou and the city of Limoges to the thoroughfare of the Loire; the site was fortified early on, by the 5th century a Gallo-Roman castrum had been established. Theobald I, Count of Blois built the earliest known castle on the mount of Chinon in the 10th century, he fortified it for use as a stronghold. After Odo II, Count of Blois died in battle in 1037, Fulk III, Count of Anjou marched into Touraine to capture Château de Langeais and Chinon, some 22 km away.
When Fulk arrived at Chinon the castle's garrison sought terms and surrendered. In 1044, Geoffrey captured Theobald of Blois-Chartres. In exchange for his release, Theobald agreed to recognise Geoffrey's ownership of Chinon and Tours. From until the early 13th century, Château de Chinon descended through his heirs. According to contemporaneous chronicler Robert of Torigni, on the death of Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou in 1151 his second son, called Geoffrey, inherited four castles. Robert did not specify which these were, but historian W. L. Warren speculated that Chinon, Montsoreau and Mirebeau numbered amongst these castles as they were in the territory which may have been traditionally the inheritance of the second oldest son. Geoffrey rebelled against his older brother, Henry, in 1152. Henry negotiated with the castellans of the castles of Chinon and Mirebeau to surrender before laying siege to Château de Montsoreau. Following the loss of Montsoreau, Geoffrey surrendered to his brother.
By 1156 Chinon and Mirebeau were back under Geoffrey's control. That year he readied them for war. In the intervening years, his brother had been crowned King Henry II of England at the end of a long-running civil war. Henry besieged and captured Geoffrey's castles in the summer of 1156 and kept them under his control, giving Geoffrey an annuity of £1,500 in compensation; the presence of a treasury and one of Henry II's main arsenals marked Chinon as a important castle in the 12th century. It was a primary residence of Henry II, responsible for construction of all of the massive castle. In 1173 Henry II betrothed his youngest son, Prince John, to the daughter of Count Humbert, an influential lord in Provence. John had no land, but as part of the arrangement Henry promised him the castles of Chinon and Mirebeau. Henry II's eldest son called Henry, had been crowned King of England alongside his father but had no land of his own and was angered by the situation, his discontent grew and Henry the Young King demanded some of the land promised to him be handed over, claiming to have the support of the English barons and his father-in-law, King Louis VII of France.
While the king was at Limoges he was informed of a conspiracy involving his wife and sons to overthrow him. Choosing to keep his eldest son by his side, Henry II set off north to Normandy, ensuring along the way that his castles in Aquitaine were prepared for war. En route. Two of Henry the Young King's brothers and Geoffrey, joined him in rebellion along with the barons of France and some in England. War followed, lasting until 1174, Chinon, Châtellerault were key to Henry II's defence. After the revolt ended in 1174, relations between Henry II and his sons continued to be strained. By 1187 Henry the Young King was dead, Richard was in line to inherit, Henry II was on the brink of war with Philip II. In June that year Richard travelled to Paris with Philip II and struck up a friendship with the French king. Concerned his son might turn against him, Henry II asked him to return. Richard went to Chinon and raided the castle's treasury so he could fund the repair of his own castles in Aquitaine. In 1189 Richard and Philip were wreaking havoc in Toulouse, capturing Henry II's castles.
He left in July to meet with Richard and Philip II and agree a truce, died at Chinon on 6 July. The king's body was taken to Fontevraud Abbey and Richard became king. In 1199, John su
Berkshire is one of the home counties in England. It was recognised by the Queen as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, letters patent were issued in 1974. Berkshire is a county of historic origin, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council; the county town is Reading. The River Thames formed the historic northern boundary, from Buscot in the west to Old Windsor in the east; the historic county therefore includes territory, now administered by the Vale of White Horse and parts of South Oxfordshire in Oxfordshire, but excludes Caversham and five less populous settlements in the east of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. All the changes mentioned, apart from the change to Caversham, took place in 1974; the towns of Abingdon, Faringdon and Wantage were transferred to Oxfordshire, the six places joining came from Buckinghamshire. Berkshire County Council was the main local government of most areas from 1889 to 1998 and was based in Reading, the county town which had its own County Borough administration.
Since 1998, Berkshire has been governed by the six unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Slough, West Berkshire and Maidenhead and Wokingham. The ceremonial county borders Oxfordshire, Greater London, Surrey and Hampshire. No part of the county is more than 8.5 miles from the M4 motorway. According to Asser's biography of King Alfred, written in 893 AD, its old name Bearrocscir takes its name from a wood of box trees, called Bearroc; this wood no longer extant, was west of Frilsham, near Abingdon. Berkshire has been the scene of some notable battles through its history. Alfred the Great's campaign against the Danes included the Battles of Englefield and Reading. Newbury was the site of two English Civil War battles: the First Battle of Newbury in 1643 and the Second Battle of Newbury in 1644; the nearby Donnington Castle was reduced to a ruin in the aftermath of the second battle. Another Battle of Reading took place on 9 December 1688, it was the only substantial military action in England during the Glorious Revolution and ended in a decisive victory for forces loyal to William of Orange.
Reading became the new county town in 1867. Under the Local Government Act 1888, Berkshire County Council took over functions of the Berkshire Quarter Sessions, covering the administrative county of Berkshire, which excluded the county borough of Reading. Boundary alterations in the early part of the 20th century were minor, with Caversham from Oxfordshire becoming part of the Reading county borough, cessions in the Oxford area. On 1 April 1974, Berkshire's boundaries changed under the Local Government Act 1972. Berkshire took over administration of Slough and Eton and part of the former Eton Rural District from Buckinghamshire; the northern part of the county became part of Oxfordshire, with Faringdon and Abingdon and their hinterland becoming the Vale of White Horse district, Didcot and Wallingford added to South Oxfordshire district. 94 Signal Squadron still keep the Uffington White Horse in their insignia though the White Horse is now in Oxfordshire. The original Local Government White Paper would have transferred Henley-on-Thames from Oxfordshire to Berkshire: this proposal did not make it into the Bill as introduced.
On 1 April 1998 Berkshire County Council was abolished under a recommendation of the Banham Commission, the districts became unitary authorities. Unlike similar reforms elsewhere at the same time, the non-metropolitan county was not abolished. Signs saying "Welcome to the Royal County of Berkshire" exist on borders of West Berkshire, on the east side of Virginia Water, on the M4 motorway, on the south side of Sonning Bridge, on the A404 southbound by Marlow, northbound on the A33 past Stratfield Saye. A flag for the historic county of Berkshire was registered with the Flag Institute in 2017. All of the county is drained by the Thames. Berkshire divides into two topological sections: west of Reading. North-east Berkshire has the low calciferous m-shaped bends of the Thames south of, a broader, gravelly former watery plain or belt from Earley to Windsor and beyond, are parcels and belts of uneroded higher sands, flints and acid soil and in north of the Bagshot Formation, north of Surrey and Hampshire.
Swinley Forest known as Bracknell Forest, Windsor Great Park and Stratfield Saye Woods have many pine, silver birch and other acid-soil trees. East of the grassy and wooded bends a large minority of East Berkshire's land mirrors the clay belt being of low elevation and on the left bank of the Thames: Slough, Eton Wick, Wraysbury and Datchet. In the heart of the county Reading's northern suburb Caversham is on that bank but rises steeply into the Chiltern Hills. Two main tributaries skirt past Reading, the Loddon and its sub-tributary the Blackwater draining parts of two counties south and the Kennet draining part of upland Wiltshire in the west. Heading west the reduced, but large, part of county becomes further from the Thames which flows from the north-north-west before the Goring Gap. To the south, the land crests along the bo
A siege engine is a device, designed to break or circumvent heavy castle doors, thick city walls and other fortifications in siege warfare. Some are immobile, constructed in place by sappers to attack enemy fortifications from a distance, while others have wheels to enable advancing up to the enemy fortification. There are many distinct types, such as siege towers to allow attacking soldiers to scale walls and attack the defenders, battering rams to break walls or gates, to catapults, ballistae and other similar constructions used to attack from a distance and fire a projectile. Siege engines are large constructions—from the size of a small house to a large building. From antiquity up to the development of gunpowder, they were made of wood, using rope or leather to help bind them with a few pieces of metal at key stress points, they could launch simple projectiles using natural materials to build up force by tension, torsion, or, in the case of trebuchets, human power or counterweights coupled with mechanical advantage.
With the development of gunpowder and improved metallurgy and heavy artillery became the primary siege engines. Collectively, siege engines or artillery together with the necessary soldiers, sappers and transport vehicles to conduct a siege are referred to as a siege-train; the earliest engine was the battering ram, developed by the Assyrians, followed by the catapult in ancient Greece. The Spartans used battering rams in the Siege of Plataea in 429 BC, but it seems that the Greeks limited their use of siege engines to assault ladders, though Peloponnesian forces used something resembling flamethrowers; the first Mediterranean people to use advanced siege machinery were the Carthaginians, who used siege towers and battering rams against the Greek colonies of Sicily. These engines influenced the ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius I, who developed a catapult in 399 BC; the first two rulers to make use of siege engines to a large extent were Philip II of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. Their large engines spurred an evolution that led to impressive machines, like the Demetrius Poliorcetes' Helepolis of 304 BC: nine stories high and plated with iron, it stood 40 m tall and 21 m wide, weighing 180 t.
The most utilized engines were simple battering rams, or tortoises, propelled in several ingenious ways that allowed the attackers to reach the walls or ditches with a certain degree of safety. For sea sieges or battles, seesaw-like machines were used; these were giant ladders and mounted on a base mechanism and used for transferring marines onto the sea walls of coastal towns. They were mounted on two or more ships tied together and some sambykē included shields at the top to protect the climbers from arrows. Other hinged engines were used to catch enemy equipment or opposing soldiers with opposable appendices which are ancestors to the Roman corvus. Other weapons dropped heavy weights on opposing soldiers; the Romans preferred to assault enemy walls by building earthen ramps or scaling the walls, as in the early siege of the Samnite city of Silvium. Soldiers working at the ramps were protected by shelters called vineae, that were arranged to form a long corridor. Convex wicker shields were used to form a screen to protect the front of the corridor during construction of the ramp.
Another Roman siege engine sometimes used resembled the Greek ditch-filling tortoise, called a musculus. Battering rams were widespread; the Roman Legions first used siege towers around 200 BC. Romans were nearly always successful in besieging a city or fort, due to their persistence, the strength of their forces, their tactics, their siege engines; the first documented occurrence of ancient siege artillery pieces in Europe was the gastraphetes, a kind of large crossbow. These were mounted on wooden frames. Greater machines forced the introduction of pulley system for loading the projectiles, which had extended to include stones also. Torsion systems appeared, based on sinew springs; the onager was the main Roman invention in the field. The earliest documented occurrence of ancient siege-artillery pieces in China was the levered principled traction catapult and an 8-foot-high siege crossbow from the Mozi, a Mohist text written at about the 4th – 3rd century BC by followers of Mozi who founded the Mohist school of thought during the late Spring and Autumn period and the early Warring States period.
Much of what we now know of the siege technology of the time came to us from Books 14 and 15 on Siege Warfare from the Mo Jing. Recorded and preserved on bamboo strips, much of the text is now extremely corrupted. However, despite the heavy fragmentation, Mohist diligence and attention to details which set Mo Jing apart from other works ensured that the descriptive details of the workings of mechanical devices like Cloud Ladders, Rotating Arcuballistas and Levered Catapults, records of siege techniques and usage of siege weaponry can still be found today. Medieval designs include a large number of catapults such as the Mangonel, the ballista, the traction trebuchet, the counterweight trebuchet; these machines used mechanical energy to fling large projectiles to batter down stone walls. Used were the battering ram and the sie