Wiltshire, an English county, bounded by Gloucestershire, Berks, Hants, Dorset, and Somerset. Its greatest length, N. to S., is 54 miles; its greatest breadth, 37; and the area, 1354 sq. m., or 866,677 acres. Pop. (1801) 183,S20; (1841) 256,280; (1901) 273,845. This unusually small proportion of inhabitants is due to the presence of extensive tracts of open pasture-land in the centre and north of the county - Salisbury Plain and the Marlborough Downs. The river systems divide near Devizes, whence the Somerset Avon, entering Wilts from Gloucester, flows to the Severn below Bristol; the Hampshire Avon flows by Salisbury to the English Channel at Christchurch; and the Kennet flows to join the Thames at Reading. Chalk occupies far the larger portion of the county, which culminates on the Berkshire border in Inkpen or Hackpen Beacon (972 feet). Iron ore was worked and smelted in remote antiquity, but of late only in the vicinity of Seend, and since of Westbury. The industries are chiefly agricultural - dairy-farming in the N., and grazing in the S. Large flocks of sheep feed on Salisbury Plain. Calne sends out much Wiltshire bacon. There is also an important manufacturing element - broadcloth at Bradford and Trowbridge, and Wilton carpets. Though the rolling open country is as a rule monotonous, there is much charming scenery in the valleys and broken hill districts; Savernake Forest and Cranbourne Chace have hardly changed for centuries.

Wiltshire was settled by the Romans, and the defeat of the British at Old Sarum in 552 was the first important Saxon success. The victory at Barbury (556) included the shire in Wessex, of which kingdom Wilton became the capital. At Wilton Alfred suffered his first defeat from the Danes; at Edington (Ethandune), near West-bury, he defeated Guthrum. Wilton - itself named from the river Wyly - gave name to the county as Wiltonscire. Waller's defeat at Round-way Hill, Devizes, and the gallant defence of Wardour Castle by Lady Arundell were the chief local episodes of the Great Rebellion. Till 1832 Wiltshire returned thirty-four members, till 1867 eighteen, then till 1885 fifteen, and now six only - five for county divisions and one for Salisbury. The municipalities are Calne, Chippenham, Devizes, Malmesbury, Marlborough, Salisbury, and Wilton. For the archAelogist Wilts excels every county in England, containing as it does Stonehenge, Avebury, Silbury Hill, innumerable barrows and earthworks, the most perfect Anglo-Saxon church in existence at Brad-ford-on-Avon, Salisbury Cathedral, Malmesbury Abbey, Longleat, etc. See works by Aubrey (ed. by Jackson, 1862), Hoare(8 vols. 1812-44), Britton (3 vols. 1801-25), Moody (1851), J. E. Jackson (2 vols. 1867-72), W. H. Jones (3 vols. 1865-80), Kite (1880), Stratford (1882), R. Jefferies {Life in a Southern County, 1882), A. C. Smith (1884-85), and Worth (1887), besides the Wilts Archœological Magazine (since 1853).