Somersetshire, an important maritime county in the south-west of England, is bounded NW. by the Bristol Channel, and elsewhere by Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset, and Devon. In form oblong, with a length of some 80 miles and a breadth of 36, it has an area of 1640 sq. m Pop. (1801) 273,577; (1S41) 435,599; (1901) 508,104. The surface is exceedingly diversified, with every variation from lofty hills and barren moors to rich vales and wide marshy levels, whence the sea is banked out by an elaborate system of dykes and sluices. Ranges of hills, running east and west, give the county its leading physical characters. Chief of these is the Mendips (q.v.), which stretch from near Wells to the coast at Brean Down. South of the Mendips lies the great alluvial plain of central Somerset, broken by the line of the Polden Hills, which rise some 300 feet from the marshy levels like a long, low island. Still farther south, beyond Taunton, are the Blackdown Hills, about twice as high, and continuing eastward into the broken upland which once formed part of the ancient forest of Selwood, where Somerset, Wilts, and Dorset meet. NW, of Taunton, bordering Bridgwater Bay, are the Quantock Hills, rising at Will's Neck to 1262 feet; and W., again, is the wild district of Ex-moor Forest (q.v.), partly in Devon, but mainly in Somerset. The Bristol Avon, which forms the boundary of the county for many miles, rises near Badminton in Wilts, and enters Somerset near Bath. The Parret rises near South Perrot in Dorset, and drains the middle of the county: it is tidal to beyond Bridgwater, and is one of the streams possessing a tidal 'bore.' Other streams are the Axe, Brue, Yeo, Exe, and Devonshire Axe. Coal, limestone, and Bath building-stone are worked, as well as lead and iron ores. The agriculture is mainly pastoral, the proportion of tillage to grazing and dairy-farming being small, though the low lands generally are exceedingly fertile. The orchards of Somerset are second only to those of Devon in area and importance, and cider is largely made; while Cheddar cheese has a national reputation. The bone-caves of the Mendips show traces of neolithic if not of palaeolithic man; and there are important hill fortresses (Hamdon Castle, Neroche, Dolbury, Maesbury, Worlebury, Cad-bury), and megalithic circles and other remains at Stanton Drew. Roman remains are plentiful, and under the Saxons the district became known as the home of the SumersAetan, and took its present name. Somerset was the last home of Saxon freedom when Alfred took refuge at Athelney. At Wedmore he made his treaty with Guthrum, but the claims of Edington to be the Aethandune where he won his most memorable victory are doubtful. In the Wars of the Roses, Somerset was in the main Lancastrian; in the wars of the Commonwealth it was chiefly parliamentarian, and the stout defence of Taunton first made famous the name of Admiral Blake. The county was also the centre of Monmouth's operations; and it was chiefly Somerset men who fell at Sedgemoor (1685). The county has two cities - Bath and Wells; parliamentary boroughs in Bath and Taunton; an important manufacturing port in Bridgwater; one of the finest watering-places on the western coast in Weston-super-Mare; manufacturing towns in Frome, Yeovil, Shepton Mallet, and Wellington; and seven county parlia-mentary divisions. See Worth's Somersetshire (3d ed. 1888), and other works there cited.