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The county of Herefordshire nestles quietly between the Malvern hills to the east, and the higher lands of the Welsh border to the west. It is known as one of the most unspoilt counties in the country, still predominantly based upon agriculture. The soils forming the fertile rolling landscape of the valley rest on red sandstone, producing the well known red soils. Making the country side look even more picturesque are the number of rivers meandering through the county, namely the Rivers Wye, Lugg, Frome, and Dore.The largest is the River Wye, the source of which is 2000ft above the sea level on Plynlimon in mid-Wales. On its route to the Severn Estuary in the south the river varies in speed and width going through the differing landscape.
Hereford, the county city of Herefordshire, is to be found in the centre of the county, located 58 miles west of Birmingham and 54 miles north of Cardiff.The market city perches on the bank of the River Wye, which changes from the rapid torrent of the mountainous districts to a quieter, tranquil flow near Hereford Cathedral.
The city is steaped in history. With Edward the confessor warring with the Welsh it was beneficial for castles to be built along the border. Acting as an important defence position, the city wall and castle were built to defend the inhabitants of the city from Welsh Lords such as Owain Glyndwr. The motte and bailey castle was built by William Fitz Osbern, Earl of Hereford, after the conquest. He was a part of the powerful Fitz Osbern family who controlled a large amount of land in Herefordshire.
The castle unfortunatley did not stand the test of time. Today the remains can be seen in the lie of the land and the road names in the city. The largest site is where the bailey was, which is now used for recreation and called the castle green. Found in the middle is a war monument which is comparatively modern. The south side of the green is defended by a steep river bank, whilst the north and east have ramparts approximatly 20 ft high. The castle pool to the north side is the only remain of the castle moat. The moat followed the outside of the ramparts, which has now been covered by Mill Street. There exists 17th century plans for a round house, square house, and gate house, but no evidence of them have ever been found.
One of the largest tourist attractions in Hereford is the Norman Cathedral on the south side of the city centre. The building is mostly made of local red sandstone but some of the carvings are made of ketton. There is an example of shafting in the north transept built of Purbeck marble. It is uncertain how old the history of the building is. Bishop Cuthbert was noted to have put a cross of great magnificence here before 740 AD. It is thought that the existence of the cathedral as it is today started around the dates 1107-15. Not only is the cathedral a superb example of norman architecture, it also houses two of the nations best medieval riches. The Mappa Mundi, the largest most detailed medieval map of the world, and the chained library. It is also reputed that king Ethlebert of East Anglia, murdered by Offa Of Mercia was buried here in 794 AD.
The cathedral is not the only fine architecture in Hereford. There are many churches and buildings such as the old black and white house, the city museum, the Green Dragon Hotel (formerly a coach inn), and the butter market which was opened in 1860. The interior of the butter market was refurbished after a fire, but the original clock tower at the front of the building exists as it did when it first opened for traders. Unfortunatly John Clayton, the designer, died before the building was finished. There are many examples of historical architecture in Hereford.