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HANDBOOK FOR TRAVELLERS
With a Trabelling Map.
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
The right of Translation is reserved.
The Handbook for the three Counties of Wilts, Dorset, and Somerset, has been drawn up from a careful personal exploration of the country, and from the most recent information that could be obtained. If, however, from the rapidity of change in every part of Great Britain, or other causes, errors or omissions should occur, those who, from living on the spot, have facile means of detecting mistakes, are requested to aid in the object of obtaining a correct guide for all corners of Old England by sending notice of them to the Editor, care of Mr. Murray, 50 A, Albemarle Street.
WILTS, DORSET, AND SOMERSET.
INTRODUCTION. WILTSHIRE—or Wiltonshire, as it was called by the Anglo-Saxons, after their capital town Wilton—is the 14th of the English counties in point of size, the 30th in density of population, and of interest to a traveller chiefly for its antiquities, which embrace works of a most remote origin, and for its magnificent seats, such as Tottenham and Longleat, many of them enriched by valuable collections of art. The configuration of the ground has naturally divided it into two districts the plains and the hills, the course of the Great Western Railway pretty nearly defining the line of separation.
The plain, extending from the escarpment of the chalk to the bed of the Thames, presents a surface checkered with corn-fields and rich pastures, and here are produced the cheeses for which the county is known. In early times it was covered by a forest, which is said to have offered a serious obstacle to the Roman general Vespasian. The hill district, which comprehends the greater part of South Wiltshire, is a very different country, a range of bleak downs and deep valleys, “ a series of chalky waves,” bare of wood and swept by keen invigorating winds. It is but thinly peopled, and much of it consists of solitary sheep-walks, over which roam large flocks of sheep, each attended by its shepherd.
On these lonely hills, long the battle-ground of the Celt and Saxon, are preserved those ancient monuments and earthworks for which Wiltshire is celebrated—the ruin of the Druid temple, overgrown with mosses—the far-extending boundary, such as the Wansdyke and Bokerley-ditch, to be traced by a shadowed line across the country-and the entrenched camp on the hill-top, still perfect as on the day when it was formed. Neither is it alone in such remains that we find the vestiges of an early people in Wiltshire, for “this county,” says a writer in the Quarterly Review,' “ with the exception, perhaps, of Monmouth and Hereford, retains a larger number of British names than any other in England. Not merely natural objects, as the Avon, but even towns,
[W. D. & S.]