Geologically the Cotswolds is a limestone mass stretching 100 miles SW by NE with Bath to the south and Chipping Campden to the north. The ‘wold’ is old English for ‘upland common’, while ‘Cots’ are sheep enclosures. So maybe that will give you a clue as to why you’ll see plenty of gentle, rolling hills dotted with sheep on your Cotswolds day-trip!
These rolling hills are still used mainly for sheep and arable farming. The local breed, ‘the Cotswold’ can produce a fleece in excess of 10 Kilos. At one time the area had half a million sheep and the wool trade with Europe was significant. Flemish weavers were brought to England and the merchants became wealthier than the King. Numerous fine homes and churches were built from the wealth of this trade which is why you will find several ‘Wool churches’ in the area and some fine country houses – such as Chastleton House, which we visited recently.
This trade lasted several centuries but when it was over the human devastation was dreadful. It did mean however that the towns in the Cotswolds have been left undeveloped as can be seen at places like Chipping Campden. These are now preservation areas and the villages will remain as they were built many centuries ago.
It is said that the first Neolithic visitors came to the Cotswolds in 3500BC and you’ll find evidence of long barrows in the area. These are prehistoric monuments which are said to be burial tombs. There are around 300 long barrows in Scotland and England with about 70 of them in Gloucestershire.
During the Bronze Age, stone circles such as the Rollright Stones -with its King Stone pointing towards the rising sun – were created.
During the Iron Age hillforts appeared – 15 have been discovered in North Cotswolds – these may have been used to defend villages and towns.
Next were the Romans who established major communication links and you’ll find town walls, amphitheatres, mosaics and villas in the surrounding area.
Finally, the Saxons appeared in the fifth century, giving shape to the Britain we know today. Several churches in the Cotswolds stem from Saxon buildings.
This has only scratched the surface of the rich history contained within the Cotswold hills and towns; there’s plenty more to discover.
The views around the Cotswolds are breathtaking. Our visitors describe it like being in fairyland. With the iconic honey-coloured stone buildings, dry stone walls creating boundaries and picturesque villages like Bledington it’s no wonder our visitors want to take the Secret Cottage tour again and again.
Come and explore this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by taking a tour at Secret Cottage with Cotswold Tourism Tours – it’s a Cotswolds day-trip with a difference!