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Historic Hampshire

Hampshire is a beautiful county in the South of England, notable for its gorgeous countryside, historic buildings and villages and its archaeology, amongst other things.

Neolithic tribes originally settled in the chalk downlands still famous in the South Downs today, as well as the south of Salisbury Plain and they build hill forts and farmed the Hampshire valleys. Originally the Celts named the wider area that Hampshire sat in, Y Went or Gwent and this region went as far as Wiltshire and Somerset.

When the Romans invaded Britain, Hampshire fell very quickly to the invading armies and was occupied by the Jutes until the reign of the Saxons. Hampshire was in fact one of the first shires of the Saxons and recorded as so back in 755. At this time it represented Saxon England`s western border, as the britons fought off Somerset and Dorset advances.

Later, as the Saxons took greater hold over the West - Hampshire became central to the Kingdom of Wessex and the famous city of Winchester still holds the remains of many ancient kings and nobles.
King Alfred even has a statue built in his honour in Winchester - famous for stabilising the area when he ruled in the ninth century. When the Normans conquered, their Kings favoured the New Forest greatly and set it up as a hunting forest - a fact recorded in the Domesday book. At that time there area was divided into forty four areas and these later were reduced to 37 localities.

As the centuries progressed, various forts and castles were built along the Solent to defend the strategically important harbours at Portsmouth and Southampton. Portchester Castle and Hurst Castle are still worth a visit. Both cities have a very important naval heritage which is reflected in their history and tourist attractions, with some important historical ships such as the Mayflower and the Mary Rose housed at Portmsouth`s harbour.

In more recent times, Portsmouth became an important military area for the first and second world wars, housing army camps and military hospitals in Southampton. It still remains very popular with history enthusiasts and is well worth a visit. A highly accessible place, you can drive easily or take the train to Portsmouth or Southampton, otherwise fly and organise cheap car hire at Southampton airport for ease of getting about. You`ll find plenty of places to stay, attractions to visit and locals keen to show off their towns!
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