25 Facts About Somerset


Somerset is a county in South West England which borders Gloucestershire and Bristol to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east and Devon to the south-west.

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Somerset is currently formed of six council areas, of which two are unitary authorities, until the four second-tier district councils are merged on 1 April 2023, after which the county will comprise three unitary authorities.

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Somerset is a rural county of rolling hills, the Blackdown Hills, Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park, and large flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels.

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Somerset's name derives from Old English Sumorsæte, short for Sumortunsæte, meaning "the people living at or dependent on Sumortun ".

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Somerset was a shire of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and the phrase refers to the wholehearted support the people of Somerset gave to King Alfred in his struggle to save Wessex from Viking invaders.

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Somerset came under the political influence of several different nobles during the Middle Ages.

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Somerset contains HM Prison Shepton Mallet, which was England's oldest prison still in use prior to its closure in 2013, having opened in 1610.

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Boundaries of Somerset are very similar to how they were in medieval times.

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Much of the landscape of Somerset falls into types determined by the underlying geology.

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The Somerset Coalfield is part of a larger coalfield which stretches into Gloucestershire.

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Somerset Levels are a sparsely populated wetland area of central Somerset, between the Quantock and Mendip hills.

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The highest point in Somerset is Dunkery Beacon on Exmoor, with a maximum elevation of 519 metres .

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Over 100 sites in Somerset have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

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From 1984 to 1994, Somerset was represented by Conservative Margaret Daly as part of the Somerset and Dorset West constituency for elections to the European Parliament.

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From 1994 to 1999, Somerset was represented by Liberal Democrat Graham Watson as part of the Somerset and North Devon constituency for elections to the European Parliament.

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From 1999 to 2020, Somerset was part of the South West England constituency for elections to the European Parliament.

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Somerset has few industrial centres, but it does have a variety of light industry and high technology businesses, along with traditional agriculture and an increasingly important tourism sector, resulting in an unemployment rate of 2.

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Somerset is an important supplier of defence equipment and technology.

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All of the ceremonial county of Somerset is covered by the Avon and Somerset Police, a police force which covers Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

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The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is a charitable organisation based in the county.

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Somerset songs were collected by Cecil Sharp and incorporated into works such as Holst's A Somerset Rhapsody.

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Flag of Somerset, representing the ceremonial county, has been registered with the Flag Institute following a competition in July 2013.

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The main train operator in Somerset is Great Western Railway, with other services operated by South Western Railway and CrossCountry.

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Two branch lines, the West and East Somerset Railways, were rescued and transferred back to private ownership as "heritage" lines.

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The Somerset LEA provides special schools such as Newbury Manor School, which caters for children aged between 10 and 17 with special educational needs.

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