What is Cotswold Shale?
The Cotswold hills were formed in the Jurassic period, and are but a part of a great ridge of Jurassic stone which sweeps up from the Dorset coast and peters out far off in the North York Moors. The western slope of this Jurassic Ridge is composed largely of shale, clay, and lias limestone.
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There is evidence of Neolithic settlement from burial chambers on Cotswold Edge, and there are remains of Bronze and Iron Age forts.Later the Romans built villas, such as at Chedworth, settlements such as Gloucester, and paved the Celtic path later known as Fosse Way.
During the Middle Ages, thanks to the breed of sheep known as the Cotswold Lion, the Cotswolds became prosperous from the wool trade with the continent, with much of the money made from wool directed towards the building of churches. The area still preserves numerous large, handsome Cotswold Stone “wool churches”. The affluent area in the 21st century has attracted wealthy Londoners and others who own second homes there or have chosen to retire to the Cotswolds.
The name Cotswold is popularly attributed the meaning “sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides”, incorporating the term, wold, meaning hills. Compare also the Weald from the Saxon/German word Wald meaning ‘wood’. However, the English Place-Name Society has for many years accepted that the term Cotswold is derived from Codesuualt of the 12th century or other variations on this form, the etymology of which was given, ‘Cod’s-wold’, which is ‘Cod’s high open land’. Cod was interpreted as an Old English personal name, which may be recognised in further names: Cutsdean, Codeswellan, and Codesbyrig, some of which date back to the eighth century AD. It has subsequently been noticed that “Cod” could derive philologically from a Brittonic female cognate “Cuda”, a hypothetical mother goddess in Celtic mythology postulated to have been worshipped in the Cotswold region.
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