County of eastern England, which has contained the unitary authority Peterborough since April 1998.
Area 3,410 sq km/1,316 sq mi
Towns and citiesCambridge (administrative headquarters), Ely, Huntingdon, March, Wisbech, St Neots, Whittlesey
Physical county is flat with fens, whose soil is very fertile; Bedford Level (a peaty area of the fens); rivers: Nene, Ouse (with tributaries Cam, Lark, and Little Ouse), Welland
Features Cambridge University; Ely Cathedral (1083, with 16th-, 18th- and 20th-century refurbishments); the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, which is Britain's foremost aviation museum; the 17th-century Grantchester vicarage, former home of English poet Rupert Brooke; the Rupert Brooke Museum in Grantchester;
Agriculture the county is one of the chief cereal and sugar-beet producing districts of England; fruit and vegetables are grown; there is also dairy farming and sheep-rearing
Industries services, construction, brewing, electronics, food processing, mechanical engineering, paper, printing, publishing; there are scientific and pharmaceutical research establishments
Population (2001) 552,700
Famous people Oliver Cromwell, Octavia Hill, John Maynard Keynes
The county's boundaries Cambridgeshire is bounded to the north by Lincolnshire and Peterborough; to the east by Norfolk and Suffolk; to the south by Essex and Hertfordshire; and to the west by Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. The boundaries of the county were altered in 1965 when the two then counties of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely united to form one county. In 1974 the county was extended to include Huntingdon and Peterborough district.
Topography Cambridgeshire forms part of the Fenlands, which up until the 17th century was mainly marshland. In the 17th century, much of the land was drained for farmland. Although the county is generally very flat, there are hills in the south (the Gog Magog Hills), in the southeast (near Weston Colville, West Wickham, and Castle Camps), and in the west. The hills are mainly boulder clay on top of chalk, although geologically, the county is mainly oolite covered with boulder clay. The south is more wooded than the rest of the county. The river channels are chiefly man-made, and the rivers flow extremely slowly. The county is renowned for its waterways, and most towns can be reached by boat.
History In Celtic times, the northern part of Cambridgeshire was in the territory of the Iceni, while the remainder was controlled by the Catuvellauni. There are remains of pre-Roman earthworks, while relics of the Roman occupation, such as roads, amphorae, and coins, are common. The inhabitants of the district resisted the Norman invasion stubbornly, and it was at Ely that Hereward the Wake held out against the Normans for some years. The county was later prominent in the bitter struggles under kings Stephen, John, Henry III, and Charles I.
Historic buildings The monasteries at Thorney and Ramsey were founded before the Norman Conquest. There are outstanding examples of medieval architecture, especially in the county's many fine churches. There are medieval bridges at Huntingdon, Wansford, and St Ives, and important houses at Burleigh, Elton, and Hinchingbrooke.
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