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Cambridgeshire

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CAMBRIDGESHIRE, an eastern county of England, bounded north by Lincolnshire, east by Norfolk and Suffolk, south by Essex and Hertfordshire, and west by Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Northamptonshire. The greater part of the county falls within the district of the Fens, and is flat, lying only a few feet above sea-level, and intersected with innumerable drainage channels. The physical characteristics of this district, and the history of its reclamation are more fully treated under the heading FENS. Except in the south of the county the scenery is very monotonous and open : such isolated elevations as the Gog Magog Hills, south-east of Cambridge, and the hillock on which the city of Ely stands, are very conspicuous. The principal rivers are the Ouse and its tributaries in the south and centre, and the Nene in the north : they flow for the most part in artificial chan nels, of which those for the Ouse, two great parallel cuts between Earith and Denver Sluice, in Norfolk, are called the Bedford Rivers. The old channel of the Ouse, from Ely to Denver (below which are tidal waters), is followed chiefly by the Cam or Granta, the Lark, which with its feeder, the Kennett, forms part of the boundary of the county with Suffolk, and the Little Ouse, forming part of the boundary with Norfolk.

In the south and south-east the chalk gives a continuous belt of dry uplands, clothed with scattered groves of beech. North of this, but best developed in the south-west, is a clay and greensand area; the rest of the county is alluvial Fenland. The general strike of the rocks is along a south-west and north-east line, and the dip is south-easterly. The oldest rock is the jurassic Oxford Clay, forming an irregular strip of rising ground west of Cam bridge, reaching from Croxton by Conington and Fenny Drayton to Willingham and Rampton. Eastward and northward it forms the floor of the Fen country, and at Thorney and Whittlesea rises in "islands" through the level fen alluvium. The Coralline Oolite, with the Elsworth or St. Ives rock at the base, occurs as a small patch, covered by Greensand, at Upware. Elsewhere its place is taken by the Ampthill Clay passage beds between the Oxford and Kimmeridge Clays. The latter clay lies in a narrow strip by Pap worth St. Agnes, Oakington and Cottenham; a large irregular outcrop surrounds Haddenham and Ely. Above the Kimmeridge Clay comes the Lower Greensand, sandy for the greater part, but here and there hardened into "Carstone" which has been used as an inferior building-stone. This formation extends from the border by Gamlingay, Cuxton and Cottenham, and appears again in outliers at Upware, Ely and Haddenham. The Gault forms a strip of flat ground, 4 to 6 m. wide, and 200 ft. thick in the south west, running roughly parallel with the course of the river Cam, from Guilden Morden through Cambridge to Soham. At the bottom of the chalk is the Chalk Marl, io to 20 ft. thick, with a nodule-bearing layer at its base, known as the Cambridge Green sand. This bed has been largely worked for the nodules and for cement ; it contains many fossils derived from the Gault below. Several outliers of Chalk Marl lie upon the Gault west of the Cam. Much glacial boulder clay covers all the higher ground of the county. Near Ely there is a remarkable mass of chalk, evidently transported by ice, resting on and surrounded by boulder clay. Plateau gravel caps some of the chalk hills, and old river gravels occur at lower levels with the bones of mammoth, rhinoceros and other extinct mammals. The low-lying Fen beds are marly silt with abundant peat beds and buried forests; at the bottom is a gravel layer of marine origin. See FENS.

Early Settlement.—Neolithic types of flint implements are very common in parts of the county, implying a prolonged period of occupation in the areas bordering on the fens, around Milden hall (part of the East Anglian heathlands) and along the river Cam south-westwards. "Beakers," a type of pottery introduced from the continent after 2000 B.C., occur in the Anglian river valleys and on the edge of the fens. Throughout the bronze age, settlement seems to have been mainly concentrated in the strip east of the Cam from Royston north-eastwards to Soham, includ ing the chalk escarpment. Hoards of the late bronze age come mainly from the borders of the fens and from the Cam valley; several have been found in the fens; inland waterways were evi dently important. There is also evidence that raw material (copper and tin) was brought to the region from the south-west along the Icknield Way. The forested valleys in the chalk of the south-east had been penetrated to some extent. Invaders reached the region during the early iron age, in the La Tene and possibly in the pre ceding Hallstatt period. Penetration took place by the Wash and also from the south, and the La Tene culture profoundly influ enced provincial Roman craftsmanship. Population was densest in the fertile valley of the Cam ; the southern fens and the forests west of Cambridge were very barren. Several hill-forts were occupied in the south of the county and the present sites of villages and towns in many cases seem already to have been fixed. The coming of the Romans established the pre-eminence of Cambridge, a nucleus of trackways, the crossing-place of the Cam nearest the upper limit of the tidal influence. A remarkable feature of the Romano-British period is the widespread occurrence of finds in what had been marshland as well as on the fen islands. That a good deal of drainage was done is probable (the Car Dyke between Cam and Great Ouse is of Roman construction), and the forested clay lands were also penetrated. Southern Cambridgeshire lay athwart the main Roman road to the north (Ermine Street) whence Ake man street branched north-eastwards, west of the Cam, to Cam bridge and Norfolk.

The earliest English settlements were made in the 5th century. The Anglo-Saxon conquest was followed by a period of contrac tion but by the time of the Domesday Survey, the range of settle ment was in its essentials that of modern times. The districts corresponding to the counties of Huntingdonshire and Cambridge shire were distinguished as the lands of the North Gyrwas and the South Gyrwas respectively. At this period the fen-district stretched southward as far as Cambridge, and the essential unity which it preserved is illustrated later by its inclusion under one sheriff, chosen in successive years from Cambridgeshire proper, the Isle of Ely and Huntingdonshire. After the treaty of Wedmore, the district became part of the Danelaw. On the expulsion of the Danes by Edward in the loth century it was included in East Anglia, but in the i i th century was again overrun by the Danes, who burnt Cambridge. The Saxon Chronicle records the shire's valiant resistance to the invaders in 1o10, when the rest of East Anglia had taken ignominious flight. The shire-system of East Anglia was not definitely settled before the Conquest, but during the Danish occupation of the 9th century the district possessed a certain military and political organization round Cambridge, its chief town, whence probably originated the constitution and demarcation of the shire. At the time of Domesday (1o86) the county was divided as now, except that the Isle of Ely, which then formed two hundreds having their meeting-place at Witch ford, is now divided into the four hundreds of Ely, Wisbech, North Witchford and South Witchford, while Cambridge formed a hundred by itself. Cambridgeshire was formerly included in the diocese of Lincoln, until, on the erection of Ely to a bishop's see in 1109, almost the whole county was placed in that diocese. The Isle of Ely formerly constituted an independent franchise but its privileges were abridged in the reign of Henry VIII., though the bishop still retains certain exceptional rights.

From the time of Hereward the Isle of Ely was intimately con cerned with the great political struggles of the country. It was defended against Stephen by Bishop Nigellus of Ely, who fortified Ely and Aldreth, and the latter in 1144 was held for the empress Maud by Geoffrey de Mandeville. The Isle of Ely was seized by the followers of Simon de Montfort in 1266, but in 1267 was taken by Prince Edward. The county showed much sympathy with the Reformation. In the civil war of the 17th century Cambridgeshire was one of the associated counties in which the king had no party, but the university helped him with plate and money.

The county is rich architecturally. Norman buildings include Sturbridge chapel, near Cambridge, and the parish church of Thorney, a portion of the church of an abbey founded or re founded by Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester, as a Benedictine monastery in 972. The lepers' hospital to which Sturbridge chapel belonged was granted a fair by King John which is still held in September. The magnificent cathedral of Ely (q.v.) and the rich college buildings and chapels of Cambridge (q.v.) are outstanding treasures. At Swaffham Prior there are remains of two churches in one churchyard, the tower of one being good Transitional Norman, of the other mainly Perpendicular. Among many Early English examples the church of Cherry Hinton near Cambridge may be mentioned. The churches of Trumpington and Bottisham are fine specimens of the Decorated style. As Perpendicular ex amples the tower and spire of St. Mary's, Whittlesey, and the rich wooden roof of Outwell church, may be selected. Monastic remains are scanty. Excluding the town of Cambridge there are no domestic buildings of special note with the exception of Sawston Hall (1557-1584) in the south.

Agriculture.

The Domesday Survey mentions over ninety mills and numerous valuable fisheries, especially eel fisheries. The county had a flourishing wool industry in the 14th century, and became noted for its worsted cloths. The Black Death of and the Wars of the Roses brought severe depression, and in several Cambridgeshire towns obtained a remission of taxation on the plea of poverty. In the 16th century barley for malt was grown in large quantities in the south, and the manufacture of willow baskets was carried on in the fen districts. Saffron was extensively cultivated in the 18th century, and paper was manu factured near Sturbridge. Sturbridge fair was at this period reckoned the largest in Europe, the chief articles of merchandise being wool, hops and leather; and the Newmarket races and horse trade were already famous. Large waste areas were brought under cultivation in the I 7th century through the drainage of the fen district, completed about 1652 under Cornelius Vermuyden, a Dutchman. The coprolite industry was very profitable for a short period from 1850 to 188o, and its decline was accompanied by a general industrial and agricultural depression.

Cambridgeshire is one of the principal grain-producing counties in England. Cereal growth is favoured by the flat fertile lands, and by the dry climate. About 85% of the total area is under cultivation, and an unusually small proportion is under permanent pasture. .Wheat is the chief grain crop, but large quantities of barley and oats are also grown. Potatoes occupy a large and increasing area in the Isle of Ely, and sugar-beet is increasingly grown. Dairy-farming is especially practised in the south-west, where the district of the Cam valley has long been known as the Dairies ; and much butter and cheese are sent to the London markets. Sheep are pastured extensively on the higher ground. Fruit-growing and market-gardening are important in many parts. There is no large manufacturing industry common to the county in general.

Communications.

The principal railway serving the county is the L.N.E., which has numerous branch lines centring chiefly upon Cambridge, Ely and March. Communications are also maintained by the L.M.S.R. and by the M. and G.N.Jt.R. The artificial waterways provide the county with an extensive system of inland navigation.

Population and Administration.

The area of the adminis trative county, excluding that of the Isle of Ely is 315,168 acres. Pop. (1931) 140,004. The ancient county includes the two ad ministrative counties. The liberty of the Isle of Ely was formerly of the independent nature of a county palatine, but ceased to be so under acts of 1836 and 1837. Its area is 238,073 acres. Pop. 77,705. Cambridgeshire contains seventeen hundreds. The mu nicipal boroughs are Cambridge, the county town (pop. 66,8o3) and Wisbech (12,005) in the Isle of Ely. The urban districts are: Chatteris (5,153), Ely (8,382), March (11,276) and Whittlesey (8,299), all in the Isle of Ely. The town of Newmarket, which, although wholly within the administrative county of West Suffolk, is mainly in the ancient county of Cambridgeshire, is famous for its race meetings. The county is in the south-eastern circuit and assizes are held at Cambridge. Each administrative county has a court of quarter sessions. There are 168 entire civil parishes in the two administrative counties. Cambridgeshire is almost wholly in the diocese of Ely and the archdeaconries of Ely and Sudbury, but small portions are within the dioceses of St. Albans and Nor wich. There are 194 ecclesiastical parishes or districts wholly or in part within the county. The university of Cambridge returns two members. The administrative county, exclusive of the parlia mentary borough of Cambridge returns one member to the House of Commons.

See C. C. Babington, Ancient Cambridgeshire (1883) ; R. Bowes, Catalogue of Books printed at or relating to Cambridge (Cambridge, 1891 et seq.) ; E. Conybeare, History of Cambridgeshire (London, 1897) ; also Cyril Fox, The Archaeology of the Cambridge Region

county, ely, cambridge, cam, south, isle and century