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The Cotswolds are a range of hills in west-central England, sometimes called the "Heart of England", an area 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (145 km) long. The area has been designated as the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The highest point in the Cotswolds range is Cleeve Hill at 1,083 ft (330 m),[1] 2.5 miles (4 km) to the north of Cheltenham.

The Cotswolds lie mainly within the ceremonial counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but extend into parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.



The name Cotswold is sometimes attributed the meaning "sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides",[2][3] incorporating the term "wold" meaning hills. The English Place-Name Society has for many years accepted that the term Cotswold is derived from Codesuualt of the twelfth century or other variations on this form, the etymology of which was given 'Cod's-wold', which is 'Cod's high open land'.[4] Cod was interpreted as an Old English Personal Name, which can be recognised in further names: Cutsdean, Codeswellan, and Codesbyrig, some of which date back to the eighth century AD.[5] It has subsequently been noticed that "Cod" could philologically derive from a Brittonic female cogname "Cuda", which is the name of a mother goddess recognised in the Cotswold region.[6][7]


The spine of the Cotswolds runs south west to north east through six counties, particularly Gloucestershire, west Oxfordshire, and south western Warwickshire. The northern and western edges of the Cotswolds are marked by steep escarpments down to the Severn valley and the Warwickshire Avon. This escarpment or scarp feature, sometimes called the Cotswold Edge, is a result of the uplifting (tilting) of the limestone layer, exposing its broken edge.[8] This is a cuesta, in geological terms. The dip slope is to the south east. On the eastern boundary lies the city of Oxford and on the west is Stroud noteworthy for being the birthplace of the Lawn-mower and its beautiful small railway station. To the south-east the upper reaches of the Thames Valley and towns such as Lechlade, Tetbury and Fairford are often considered to mark the limit of this region. To the south the Cotswolds, with the characteristic uplift of the Cotswold Edge, reach as far south as Bath and towns such as Chipping Sodbury and Marshfield share elements of Cotswold character.

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