Cheshire is a ceremonial county in the North West of England. Chester is the county town, and formerly gave its name to the county. The largest town is Warrington, and other major towns include Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Widnes, Wilmslow and Winsford. The county is administered as four unitary authorities.
Cheshire occupies a boulder clay plain (pictured) which separates the hills of North Wales from the Peak District of Derbyshire. The county covers an area of 2,343 km2 (905 sq mi), with a high point of 559 m (1,834 ft) elevation. The estimated population is 1,028,600, 19th highest in England, with a population density of 439 people per km2.
The county was created in around 920, but the area has a long history of human occupation dating back to before the last Ice Age. Deva was a major Roman fort, and Cheshire played an important part in the Civil War. Predominantly rural, the county is historically famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt and silk. During the 19th century, towns in the north of the county were pioneers of the chemical industry, while Crewe became a major railway junction and engineering facility.
Maiden Castle, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, is one of the seven Iron Age hill forts, or fortified hill-top settlements, in Cheshire. The name probably means a "fortification that looks impregnable" or one that has never been taken in battle. Maiden Castle is an outlier from the other Cheshire hill forts, lying around 9 miles to the south of the southernmost group. It stands at 212 metres elevation on Bickerton Hill at the southern end of the Mid Cheshire Ridge, near the village of Bickerton.
The hill fort was probably occupied from its construction in 600 BC until the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century AD. The remaining earthworks include two semicircular banks 11 metres apart which partially enclose an area of 6,700 square metres; the northern and western sides had no artificial defences, being protected by the steep slopes of the hill. The main entrance was on the east side of the fort. Excavations were carried out on the site in 1935–38 and 1980–81.
Maiden Castle is owned by the National Trust. The site is open to visitors, but unrestricted access has resulted in it being classified as "at high risk" from erosion.
The 60 listed buildings in Runcorn urban area include two at Grade I, nine at Grade II* and 49 at Grade II. Runcorn's earliest listed buildings, Halton Castle and Norton Priory, date from the 11th and 12th centuries and are now in ruins. The oldest standing building, the Seneschal's House, dates from 1598. Other early buildings include ones relating to stately homes, such as the loggia and ice house in the grounds of Norton Priory; domestic buildings, such as Halton Old Hall, and church-related buildings, such as Halton Vicarage and the Chesshyre Library.
The diversity of Runcorn's buildings increased during the Industrial Revolution. Structures such as Bridgewater House were associated with industry, while large domestic buildings such as Halton Grange were financed by the new wealth created. The enlarged town required new civic buildings and transport infrastructure such as the railway bridge (pictured) and the tide dock, while the needs of the growing population were met by structures such as Norton Water Tower. The most recent listed structure is the Silver Jubilee Bridge, constructed in 1961.
26 June: Daresbury Hall, a grade II* listed building, was severely damaged by fire.
21 March: An exhibition on the Gothic Revival in Cheshire opens at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester.
20 March: An exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of Macclesfield Synagogue opens in Macclesfield.
4 March: The Lion Salt Works restoration wins the conservation award at the Civic Trust Awards.
4 March: Consultation opens on Cheshire East's local plan, which has been revised to contain an extra 7,000 houses, to include greenbelt sites near Knutsford, Macclesfield and Wilmslow.
1 March: Disused offices in Runcorn are to be converted into a "healthy new town" providing 800 dwellings.
25 February: Listed railway viaducts at Holmes Chapel and Peover Superior, as well as railway bridges at Crewe, Rudheath and Davenham, reopen after refurbishment.
22 February: DONG Energy announces the first plant to convert unsorted household waste into biogas, to be built in Northwich.
22 February: Restoration work commences on the Chester Castle Propylaeum.
21 February: An exhibition celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Brazilian World Cup football team's visit to Lymm opens.
It lay in the midst of a demesne of considerable extent, and richly wooded with venerable timber; but, apart from the somber majesty of these giant groups, and the varieties of the undulating ground on which they stood, there was little that could be deemed attractive in the place. A certain air of neglect and decay, and an indescribable gloom and melancholy, hung over it. In darkness, it seemed darker than any other tract; when the moonlight fell upon its glades and hollows, they looked spectral and awful, with a sort of churchyard loneliness; and even when the blush of the morning kissed its broad woodlands, there was a melancholy in the salute that saddened rather than cheered the heart of the beholder.
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