The Cotswolds is the name given to a range of hills in central England, sometimes called the "Heart of England", a hilly area reaching over 300m or 1000 feet. The area has been designated as the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The highest point in the Cotswolds is Cleeve Hill at 330m/1083ft.
The Cotswolds lie within the current ceremonial counties of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire. The county of Gloucestershire forms the largest area of the Cotswolds.
The area is characterised by attractive small towns and villages built of the underlying Cotswold stone (a yellow oolitic limestone). This limestone is rich in fossils, in particular fossilised sea urchins. In the Middle Ages, the wool trade made the Cotswolds prosperous; hence the Speaker of the British House of Lords sits on the Woolsack showing where the Medieval wealth of the country came from. Some of this money was put into the building of churches so the area has a number of large, handsome Cotswold stone "wool churches". The area remains affluent and has attracted wealthy people who own second homes in the area or have chosen to retire to the Cotswolds.
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