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Somerset History - A Brief Introduction

Somerset is a maritime county in the southwest part of England. To its west is the Bristol Channel, and to the north, east, south east and southwest are the counties of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Devon respectively. It covers an area of approximately 1,336 square miles.

Ancient History

About 350 years B.C. Somerset was inhabited by the Belgæ, who were a warlike people of Celtic origins, who originated from Gaul. They occupied a large portion of southern England, into which they willingly admitted the native Britons. The Belgæ were occasionally assisted in extending their boundaries by Divitiacus, who was, at the time the most powerful prince in Gaul. In order to defend their conquest, 'Wansdike' was created, which, in many places, still exists today.

About 40 years A.D., Somerset was taken under the control of the Roman Empire. During their stay, the Romans founded the famous city of Aqua Solis (Bath) plus many others. It was the Romans who created the historic Fosse Way, which runs in an almost straight line for many miles and was a remarkable feat of engineering.

Battle of Sedgmoor - July 6 1685

James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, 1649-1685, was claimant to the English Crown, the illegitimate son of Charles II and Lucy Walter. After James' II's accession in 1685, Monmouth landed in England at Lyme Regis in Dorset, claimed the crown and with his peasants, suffered one of the worst defeats ever recorded at the Battle of Sedgmoor. Following his defeat, he was executed, along with 320 of his supporters, many of whom were from Somerset.