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Staffordshireadministrative, geographic, and historic county in the Midlands of west-central England. It extends north from the West Midlands metropolitan county centred on Birmingham and is bordered by Shropshire to the west.
Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire to the northeast, Warwickshire to the southeast, and Worcestershire to the southwest. Stafford is the county seat. The administrative, geographic, and historic counties occupy somewhat different areas. The geographic county includes the entire administrative county and the unitary authority of Stoke-on-Trent.
The historic county encompasses all of the geographic county except three small areas: in East Staffordshire borough, an area east of the River Dove at Rocester and the part of Burton upon Trent east of the River Trent both belong to the historic county of Derbyshire; and in Tamworth borough, the area east of the River Tame and south of the River Anker belongs to the historic county of Warwickshire. However, the historic county of Staffordshire extends beyond the geographic county to encompass much of the West Midlands area, including the metropolitan boroughs of Wolverhampton and Walsall and parts of the metropolitan boroughs of DudleySandwelland Birmingham.
From north to south the county can be divided into five physical regions. Immediately to their south lie the northern Staffordshire coalfields, consisting of sandstones, clays, and shales interspersed with coal seams—the region better known as the Potteries. The central agricultural belt, including the town of Stafford, is an area of sandstones and marls. Southeast of that undulating countryside, pebble strata underlie Staffordshire united kingdom barren heathland known as Cannock Chase. That area, formerly a royal forest, reaches elevations of to feet to metres.
An arm of the geographic county of Staffordshire extends south of Cannock Chase and west of the metropolitan county of West Midlands into the headwaters of the River Stoura tributary of the River Severn. That last area combines rich agricultural land with suburban development.
Traces of Neolithic New Stone Age and Bronze Age settlements remain, especially in the northeast, where there are long, low Neolithic burial mounds. The Romans built ro through the forests that covered the historic county, including what are now Watling Street and Ryknield Street, intersecting near Lichfield. Roman settlements developed along those ro, including Letocetum near Wall; at their intersection and Pennocrucium near Penkridge. From the 7th until the 9th century the area was the centre of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. At the end of the 9th century the Danes ravaged the area, and throughout the 10th and much of the 11th century the county was the scene of considerable fighting, including a rebellion against Staffordshire united kingdom I the Conqueror.
Domesday Book recorded a sparsely populated and poor area. During the Reformation Staffordshire was a bastion of support for Roman Catholicism. Beginning in the 13th century, coal and iron were mined on the upper River Trent and around Cannock Chase, but they did not achieve real importance until the late 18th century. The Staffordshire united kingdom pottery industry of northern Staffordshire also became renowned during the 18th century, particularly through the entrepreneurial efforts of Josiah Wedgwood.
The brewing industry of Burton upon Trent acquired similar recognition in the 19th century. By the midth century the Black Country and nearby Birmingham—in the present-day metropolitan county of West Midlands—had become a major industrial area, with numerous coal mines and steel mills, but by the end of the 20th century coal mining had ceased. Most of the geographic county of Staffordshire is still agricultural, and dairy farming is particularly important. Arable farming produces mainly Staffordshire united kingdom crops, except in the extreme south and around Tamworth and Lichfield, where market gardening predominates.
The Forestry Commission has planted conifers on large areas of Cannock Chase.
The most important industrial area in the geographic county is the metalworking and Staffordshire united kingdom district around the city and unitary authority of Stoke-on-Trent, whose pottery and glass industries also remain important. Most towns in the administrative county have also attracted some industry: Stafford has light engineering and shoe manufacture, Leek produces silk and rayon, and Burton upon Trent remains famous for its beer.
The University of Keele is in the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Area administrative county, 1, square miles 2, square km ; geographic county, 1, square miles 2, square km. Additional Info. Contributors Article History. Print Cite verified Cite.
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Castle in Stafford, Staffordshire, Eng. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Subscribe Now. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Englandpredominant constituent unit of the United Kingdom, occupying more than half of the island of Great Britain. Despite the political, economic,…. West Midlandsmetropolitan county of central England. The metropolitan county incorporates parts of three historic counties. In the….
Birminghamsecond largest city of the United Kingdom and a metropolitan borough in the West Midlands metropolitan county. It lies near the geographic centre of England, at the crossing points of the national railway and motorway systems.
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