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Coordinates: 52°20′N 0°0′W / 52.333°N -0.000°E / 52.333; -0.000
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Ceremonial Cambridgeshire within England

Historic Cambridgeshire in the British Isles
Coordinates: 52°20′N 0°0′W / 52.333°N -0.000°E / 52.333; -0.000
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionEast of England
Established1 April 1974
Established byLocal Government Act 1972
Preceded byCambridgeshire and Isle of Ely
Huntingdon and Peterborough
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
UK ParliamentList of MPs
PoliceCambridgeshire Constabulary
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantJulie Spence[1]
High SheriffDr Bharatkumar N Khetani (2023-24)
Area3,390 km2 (1,310 sq mi)
 • Rank15th of 48
 • Rank26th of 48
Density268/km2 (690/sq mi)
94.6% White
2.6% S.Asian
Non-metropolitan county
County councilCambridgeshire County Council
ControlNo overall control
Admin HQNew Shire Hall, Alconbury Weald
Area3,046 km2 (1,176 sq mi)
 • Rank8th of 21
 • Rank17th of 21
Density226/km2 (590/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2GB-CAM
GSS codeE10000003
Unitary authorities
CouncilsPeterborough City Council

Districts of Cambridgeshire
Unitary County council area
  1. City of Peterborough
  2. Fenland
  3. Huntingdonshire
  4. East Cambridgeshire
  5. South Cambridgeshire
  6. City of Cambridge

Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs.) is a ceremonial county in the East of England and East Anglia. It is bordered by Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the north-east, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west. The largest settlement is the city of Peterborough, and the city of Cambridge is the county town.

The county has an area of 3,389 km2 (1,309 sq mi) and a population of 852,523. Peterborough and Cambridge, located in the north-west and south respectively, are by far the largest settlements. The remainder of the county is rural, and contains the city of Ely, and towns such as Wisbech and St Neots.

For local government purposes, Cambridgeshire comprises a non-metropolitan county, with five districts, and the unitary authority area of Peterborough. The local authorities collaborate through Cambridgeshire and Peterbrough Combined Authority. The county did not historically include Huntingdonshire or the Soke of Peterborough, which was part of Northamptonshire.

The north and east of the county are dominated by the Fens, an extremely flat, drained marsh maintained by drainage ditches and dykes. Holme Fen is the UK's lowest physical point, at 2.75 m (9 ft) below sea level. The flatness of the landscape makes the few areas of higher ground, such as that Ely is built on, very conspicuous. The landscape in the south and west is gently undulating. Cambridgeshire's principal rivers are the Nene, which flows through the north of the county and is canalised east of Peterborough; the Great Ouse, which flows from west to east past Huntingdon and Ely; and the Cam, a tributary of the Great Ouse which flows through Cambridge.[3]


Cambridgeshire is noted as the site of Flag Fen in Fengate, one of the earliest-known Neolithic permanent settlements in the United Kingdom, compared in importance to Balbridie in Aberdeen, Scotland. Must Farm quarry, at Whittlesey, has been described as "Britain's Pompeii due to its relatively good condition, including the 'best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings ever found in the UK'". A great quantity of archaeological finds from the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age were made in East Cambridgeshire. Most items were found in Isleham.[4]

The area was settled by the Anglo-Saxons starting in the fifth century. Genetic testing on seven skeletons found in Anglo-Saxon era graves in Hinxton and Oakington found that five were either migrants or descended from migrants from the continent, one was a native Briton, and one had both continental and native ancestry, suggesting intermarriage.[5]

Map showing the historical administrative boundaries in the modern ceremonial county of Cambridgeshire. Historical administrative counties showed in the background, short-lived combined counties of 1965–1974 in red outlines, and modern county council areas, unitary authorities, and districts in black outlines.

Cambridgeshire was recorded in the Domesday Book as "Grantbridgeshire" (or rather Grentebrigescire) (related to the river Granta). Covering a large part of East Anglia, Cambridgeshire today is the result of several local government unifications. In 1888 when county councils were introduced, separate councils were set up, following the traditional division of Cambridgeshire, for

  • the area in the south around Cambridge, and
  • the liberty of the Isle of Ely.

In 1965, these two administrative counties were merged to form Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely.[6] Under the Local Government Act 1972 this merged with the county to the west, Huntingdon and Peterborough, which had been formed in 1965, by the merger of Huntingdonshire with the Soke of Peterborough (the latter previously a part of Northamptonshire with its own county council). The resulting county was called simply Cambridgeshire.[7]

Since 1998, the City of Peterborough has been separately administered as a unitary authority area. It is associated with Cambridgeshire for ceremonial purposes such as Lieutenancy and joint functions such as policing and the fire service.[8]

In 2002, the conservation charity Plantlife unofficially designated Cambridgeshire's county flower as the Pasqueflower.[9]

The Cambridgeshire Regiment (nicknamed the Fen Tigers), the county-based army unit, fought in the Boer War in South Africa, the First World War and Second World War.[10]

Due to the county's flat terrain and proximity to the continent, during the Second World War the military built many airfields here for RAF Bomber Command, RAF Fighter Command, and the allies USAAF. In recognition of this collaboration, the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial is located in Madingley. It is the only WWII burial ground in England for American servicemen who died during that event.[11]

Most English counties have nicknames for their people, such as a "Tyke" from Yorkshire and a "Yellowbelly" from Lincolnshire. The historical nicknames for people from Cambridgeshire are "Cambridgeshire Camel"[12] or "Cambridgeshire Crane", the latter referring to the wildfowl that were once abundant in the Fens. The term "Fen Tigers" is sometimes used to describe the people who live and work in the Fens.[13]

Original historical documents relating to Cambridgeshire are held by Cambridgeshire Archives. Cambridgeshire County Council Libraries maintains several Local Studies collections of printed and published materials, significantly at the Cambridgeshire Collection held in the Cambridge Central Library.


The flag of the county of Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire's county flag was made official on 1 February 2015, after the design was selected as an entry from a design competition that ran during 2014. The design features three golden crowns, two on the top, one on the bottom that are separated by two wavy lines in the middle. The crowns are meant to represent East Anglia, and the two lines represent the River Cam and are in the Cambridge University's colours.[14]


See also Geology of Cambridgeshire
Hand-drawn map of Northampshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Rutland by Christopher Saxton from 1576

Large areas of the county are extremely low-lying and Holme Fen is notable for being the UK's lowest physical point at 2.75 m (9 ft) below sea level. The highest point of the modern administrative county is in the village of Great Chishill at 146 m (480 ft) above sea level. However, this parish was historically a part of Essex, having been moved to Cambridgeshire in boundary changes in 1895. The historic county top is close to the village of Castle Camps where a point on the disused RAF airfield reaches a height of 128 metres (420 ft) above sea level (grid reference TL 63282 41881).

Other prominent hills are Little Trees Hill and Wandlebury Hill (both at 74 m (243 ft)) in the Gog Magog Hills, Rivey Hill above Linton, Rowley's Hill and the Madingley Hills.

Wicken Fen is a 254.5-hectare (629-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest west of Wicken. A large part of it is owned and managed by the National Trust.[15]

Green belt[edit]

Cambridgeshire contains all its green belt around the city of Cambridge, extending to places such as Waterbeach, Lode, Duxford, Little & Great Abington and other communities a few miles away in nearby districts, to afford a protection from the conurbation. It was first drawn up in the 1950s.


The coat of arms of Cambridgeshire County Council

Cambridgeshire County Council is controlled by an alliance of the Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party and independent groups, while Peterborough City Council is currently controlled by a Conservative Party minority administration.

The county contains seven Parliamentary constituencies:

Parliamentary constituencies in Cambridgeshire
Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Party
Cambridge Daniel Zeichner Labour
Huntingdon Jonathan Djanogly Conservative
North East Cambridgeshire Steve Barclay Conservative
North West Cambridgeshire Shailesh Vara Conservative
Peterborough Paul Bristow Conservative
South Cambridgeshire Anthony Browne Conservative
South East Cambridgeshire Lucy Frazer Conservative


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Cambridgeshire at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of English Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added[note 1] Agriculture[note 2] Industry[note 3] Services[note 4]
1995 5,896 228 1,646 4,022
2000 7,996 166 2,029 5,801
2003 10,154 207 2,195 7,752

AWG plc is based in Huntingdon. The RAF has several stations in the Huntingdon and St Ives area. RAF Alconbury, three miles north of Huntingdon, is being reorganised after a period of obsolescence following the departure of the USAF, to be the focus of RAF/USAFE intelligence operations, with activities at Upwood and Molesworth being transferred there. Most of Cambridgeshire is agricultural. Close to Cambridge is the so-called Silicon Fen area of high-technology (electronics, computing and biotechnology) companies. ARM Limited is based in Cherry Hinton. The inland Port of Wisbech on the River Nene is the county's only remaining port.


Primary and secondary[edit]

Cambridgeshire has a comprehensive education system with over 240 state schools, not including sixth form colleges. The independent sector includes King's Ely and Wisbech Grammar School, founded in 970 and 1379 respectively, they are two of the oldest schools in the country.[16]

Some of the secondary schools act as Village Colleges, institutions unique to Cambridgeshire. For example, Comberton Village College.


Cambridgeshire is home to a number of institutes of higher education:

In addition, Cambridge Regional College and Huntingdonshire Regional College both offer a limited range of higher education courses in conjunction with partner universities.


Map of the Cambridgeshire area (1904).

These are the settlements in Cambridgeshire with a town charter, city status or a population over 5,000; for a complete list of settlements see list of places in Cambridgeshire.

See the List of Cambridgeshire settlements by population page for more detail.

The town of Newmarket is surrounded on three sides by Cambridgeshire, being connected by a narrow strip of land to the rest of Suffolk.

Cambridgeshire has seen 32,869 dwellings created from 2002 to 2013[17] and there are a further 35,360 planned new dwellings between 2016 and 2023.[18]


Cambridgeshire has a maritime temperate climate which is broadly similar to the rest of the United Kingdom, though it is drier than the UK average due to its low altitude and easterly location, the prevailing southwesterly winds having already deposited moisture on higher ground further west. Average winter temperatures are cooler than the English average, due to Cambridgeshire's inland location and relative nearness to continental Europe, which results in the moderating maritime influence being less strong. Snowfall is slightly more common than in western areas, due to the relative winter coolness and easterly winds bringing occasional snow from the North Sea. In summer temperatures are average or slightly above, due to less cloud cover. It reaches 25 °C (77 °F) on around ten days each year, and is comparable to parts of Kent and East Anglia.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.7
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 1.7
Record low °C (°F) −16.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 47.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.7 8.9 8.1 7.9 7.4 8.7 8.4 8.7 8.1 9.5 10.5 10.3 107.3
Source: ECA&D[19]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.4
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 1.9
Record low °C (°F) −16.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 48.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.4 8.7 8.1 8.0 7.3 8.7 8.4 9.0 8.0 9.6 10.4 10.5 107.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 57.2 77.8 118.4 157.2 182.7 182.5 190.0 181.3 144.0 110.3 67.6 53.7 1,522.7
Source 1: Met Office[20]
Source 2: Starlings Roost Weather[21][22]
  1. ^ Weather station is located 0.8 miles (1.3 km) from the Cambridge city centre.
  2. ^ Weather station is located 3 miles (4.8 km) from the Cambridge city centre.



Various forms of football have been popular in Cambridgeshire since medieval times at least. In 1579 one match played at Chesterton between townspeople and University of Cambridge students ended in a violent brawl that led the Vice-Chancellor to issue a decree forbidding them to play "footeball" outside of college grounds.[23] During the nineteenth century, several formulations of the laws of football, known as the Cambridge rules, were created by students at the university. One of these codes, dating from 1863, had a significant influence on the creation of the original laws of the Football Association.[24]

Cambridgeshire is also the birthplace of bandy,[25] now an IOC accepted sport.[26] According to documents from 1813, Bury Fen Bandy Club was undefeated for 100 years. A member of the club, Charles Goodman Tebbutt, wrote down the first official rules in 1882.[25] Tebbutt was instrumental in spreading the sport to many countries.[27] Great Britain Bandy Association is based in Cambridgeshire.[28]

Fen skating is a traditional form of skating in the Fenland. The National Ice Skating Association was set up in Cambridge in 1879, they took the top Fen skaters to the world speedskating championships where James Smart (skater) became world champion.[29]

On 6–7 June 2015, the inaugural Tour of Cambridgeshire cycle race took place on closed roads across the county. The event was an official UCI qualification event, and consisted of a Time Trial on the 6th, and a Gran Fondo event on the 7th. The Gran Fondo event was open to the public, and over 6000 riders took part in the 128 km (80 mi) race.[30]

The River Cam is the main river flowing through Cambridge, parts of the River Nene and River Great Ouse lie within the county. In 2021 the latter was used as the course for The Boat Race. The River Cam serves as the course for the university Lent Bumps and May Bumps and the non-college rowing organised by Cambridgeshire Rowing Association.

There is only one racecourse in Cambridgeshire, located at Huntingdon.

Contemporary art[edit]

Cambridge is home to the Kettle's Yard gallery and the artist-run Aid and Abet project space. Nine miles west of Cambridge next to the village of Bourn is Wysing Arts Centre.[31] Wisbech has been home to the Wisbech Gallery, South Brink since 2023. Cambridge Open Studios is the region's large arts organisation with over 500 members. Every year, more than 370 artists open their doors to visitors during four weekends in July.[32]


The annual Fenland Poet Laureate awards were instigated for poets in the North of the county in 2012 at Wisbech & Fenland Museum.[33]


The county was visited by travelling companies of comedians in the Georgian period. These came from different companies. The Lincoln Circuit included, at various times, Wisbech and Whittlesey. The Wisbech Georgian theatre still survives as an operating theatre now known as The Angles Theatre. In Cambridge the ADC Theatre is the venue for the Footlights.



The county is covered by BBC East and ITV Anglia which broadcast from Norwich. Television signals are received from the Sandy Heath TV transmitter. [34]


BBC Local Radio for the county is served by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire which broadcasts from its studio in Cambridge. County-wide commercial radio stations are Heart East, Greatest Hits Radio East, Star Radio, Cambridge 105, Connect FM (covering Peterborough), and HCR FM (for Huntingdonshire).

Places of interest[edit]

Accessible open space Accessible open space
Amusement/Theme Park
Country Park Country Park
English Heritage
Forestry Commission
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
Places of Worship Places of Worship
Museum (free)
Museum (free/not free)
National Trust National Trust

Notable people from Cambridgeshire[edit]

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. ^ includes hunting and forestry
  3. ^ includes energy and construction
  4. ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


  1. ^ "Lord Lieutenant". Archived from the original on 17 September 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Mid-Year Population Estimates, UK, June 2022". Office for National Statistics. 26 March 2024. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  3. ^ "Cambridgeshire" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 5 (11th ed.). 1911. pp. 97–99.
  4. ^ Malim, Tim (September 2010). "The environmental and social context of the isleham hoard". The Antiquaries Journal. 90: 74. doi:10.1017/S0003581509990485. S2CID 161572936.
  5. ^ Stephan Schiffels and Duncan Sayer, Investigating Anglo-Saxon migration history with ancient and modern DNA (2017)
  6. ^ The Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Order 1964 (SI 1964/366), see Local Government Commission for England (1958 - 1967), Report and Proposals for the East Midlands General Review Area (Report No.3), 31 July 1961 and Report and Proposals for the Lincolnshire and East Anglia General Review Area (Report No.9), 7 May 1965.
  7. ^ The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972 (SI 1972/2039) Part 5: County of Cambridgeshire
  8. ^ The Cambridgeshire (City of Peterborough) (Structural, Boundary and Electoral Changes) Order 1996 Archived 10 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine (SI 1996/1878), see Local Government Commission for England (1992), Final Recommendations for the Future Local Government of Cambridgeshire, October 1994 and Final Recommendations on the Future Local Government of Basildon & Thurrock, Blackburn & Blackpool, Broxtowe, Gedling & Rushcliffe, Dartford & Gravesham, Gillingham & Rochester upon Medway, Exeter, Gloucester, Halton & Warrington, Huntingdonshire & Peterborough, Northampton, Norwich, Spelthorne and the Wrekin, December 1995.
  9. ^ "County Flowers". Daily Telegraph. 5 May 2004.
  10. ^ "Cambridgeshire Regiment". www.cambridgeshireregiment1914-18.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 February 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Cambridge American Cemetery | American Battle Monuments Commission". www.abmc.gov. January 1956. Retrieved 20 February 2022.
  12. ^ Grose (1790). Provincial Glossary.
  13. ^ Francis Pryor (October 1991). Book of Flag Fen: prehistoric Fenland centre. Batsford. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7134-6752-9.
  14. ^ "Cambrdgeshire flag information". British County Flags. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  15. ^ "Wicken Fen Nature Reserve". National Trust. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Wisbech Grammar School". www.wisbechgrammar.com. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Housing Development in Cambridgeshire 2013" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Dwelling Commitments in Cambridgeshire" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Indices Data - Cambridge (B. Gdns) Station 1639". KNMI. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  20. ^ "Cambridgeniab 1991–2020 averages". Station, District and regional averages 1981–2010. Met Office. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  21. ^ "Monthly Extreme Maximum Temperature". Starlings Roost Weather. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  22. ^ "Monthly Extreme Minimum Temperature". Starlings Roost Weather. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  23. ^ Association, The Football. "Sorry. Something's wrong with the pitch. - Cambridgeshire FA". www.cambridgeshirefa.com. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  24. ^ * Harvey, Adrian (2005). Football: the First Hundred Years. London: Routledge. pp. 144–5. ISBN 0-415-35019-0. Archived from the original on 1 May 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  25. ^ a b BBC. "A handy Bandy guide..." Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Federation of International Bandy-Olympic". Internationalbandy.com. 12 August 2004. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  27. ^ "Cambridgeshire – History – A handy Bandy guide". BBC. 21 February 2006. Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  28. ^ "Members - Federation of International Bandy". www.worldbandy.com. Archived from the original on 27 January 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  29. ^ "Fen Skating Scrapbook". www.ousewashes.org.uk. Retrieved 9 December 2020.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "Tour of Cambridgeshire marks UK's first Gran Fondo cycle ride". BBC News. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  31. ^ "cultunet". cultunet.com. 3 December 2012. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  32. ^ "Cambridge Open Studios |". Archived from the original on 28 October 2021. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  33. ^ David Wright (2012). Fenland Poet Laureate 2012. Atelier East. p. 1.
  34. ^ "Full Freeview on the Sandy Heath (Central Bedfordshire, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 21 February 2024.


External links[edit]