History

The city of Caerloyw (Gloucester today, still known as Caerloyw in modern Welsh) was one centre and Cirencester may have continued as a tribal centre as well. The only reliably attested kingdom is the minor south-east Wales kingdom of Ergyng, which may have included a portion of the area (roughly the Forest of Dean). In the final quarter of the 6th century the Saxons of Wessex began to establish control over the area.The English conquest of the Severn valley began in 577 with the victory of Ceawlin at Deorham, followed by the capture of Cirencester, Gloucester and Bath. The Hwiccas who occupied the district were a West Saxon tribe, but their territory had become a dependency of Mercia in the 7th century, and was not brought under West Saxon dominion until the 9th century. No important settlements were made by the Danes in the district. Gloucestershire probably originated as a shire in the 10th century, and is mentioned by name in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1016.The region now known as Gloucestershire was originally inhabited by Brythonic peoples (ancestors of the Welsh and other British Celtic peoples) in the Iron Age and Roman periods. After the Romans left Britain in the early 5th century, the Brythons re-established control but the territorial divisions for the post-Roman period are uncertain. Towards the close of the 11th century the boundaries were readjusted to include Winchcombeshire, hitherto a county by itself, and at the same time the forest district between the Wye and the Severn was added to Gloucestershire. The divisions of the county for a long time remained very unsettled, and the thirty-nine hundreds mentioned in the Domesday Survey and the thirty-one hundreds of the Hundred Rolls of 1274 differ very widely in name and extent both from each other and from the twenty-eight hundreds of the present day.The physical characteristics of the three natural divisions of Gloucestershire have given rise in each to a special industry, as already indicated. The forest district, until the development of the Sussex mines in the 16th century, was the chief iron producing area of the kingdom, the mines having been worked in Roman times, while the abundance of timber gave rise to numerous tanneries and to an important shipbuilding trade. The hill district, besides fostering agricultural pursuits, gradually absorbed the woollen trade from the big towns, which now devoted themselves almost entirely to foreign commerce. Silkweaving was introduced in the 17th century, and was especially prosperous in the Stroud valley. The abundance of clay and building-stone in the county gave rise to considerable manufactures of brick, tiles and pottery. Numerous minor industries sprang up in the 17th and 18th centuries, such as flax-growing and the manufacture of pins, buttons, lace, stockings, rope and sailcloth.

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