Cambridgeshire is a county of colleges and great houses that sit astride its wide fertile plains. Located on the western border of East Anglia, the landscape of the north is shaped by the Fens, a vast region of wetlands, rivers and water ways, covering nearly 1500 sq miles, created by centuries of land drainage and reclamation. Towards the south, the market town and cathedral of Ely stands on a slight hill, which in medieval times was surrounded by water, and gave it the nickname the 'ship of the fens'. The flat fenland runs further south to Cambridge the county's capital, famous for its University. The land then rises gently to the south of Cambridge forming low undulating chalk downs, which include the Gog Magog Hills.
Much of the flat fens landscape is shaped by a vast region of wild wetlands, rivers and waterways created by centuries of water drainage and land reclamation. The Fens covers some 1500 square miles across the top of Cambridgeshire and west Norfolk, and support over 250 unique species of wildlife. Fenland eels have been trapped and eaten here for many generations. They were once so important to the economy that during medieval times a bag of eels could be used in place of money and every village would pay its taxes in eels. They were commonly caught using hives made of weaved willow, once a traditional industry all along the River Ouse, dating as far back as the first century. Today eels are an endangered species and can only be caught under licence.
'The shire for men who understand'
Cambridge - distance from London: 60 miles (95 km)
A1, A14, M11
Great Chishill, 479 feet (146 m)
Cam, Ouse, Nene
Cambridge Ale Cup - ale with spices and sherry, served with nutmeg-flavoured toast.
Stilton Cheese - a very strong flavoured cheese with edible blue mould.
Anglesey Abbey | Cambridge University | Clare Cottage | Ely Cathedral | The Fens | The Gog Magog Hills | Kimbolton Castle | King's College Chapel | Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse | Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre | Wandlebury Ring | Wimpole Hall
The name Cambridge is a mixture of both Anglo-Saxon and Brittonic. Originally called Grantebrige, 'the bridge over the River Granta'. The river was called the Granta before the Norman Conquest but was later renamed the Cam. Granta is a Celtic name whose meaning is associated with swamps or marshes. Cam is a popular Celtic river name, which means crooked or winding.
Originally the region was inhabited by the Iceni tribe, once lead by the famous Boudica during the uprising of Ad 60, who were later defeated by the Romans.