Hampshire (Map) (2) - Framed Picture - 12" x 16"
Hampshire (archaically known as the County of Southampton) is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. Hampshire is notable for housing the birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force.
Hampshire's tourist attractions include two national parks: the New Forest and the South Downs. The county is famed as home Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Hampshire takes its name from the settlement that is now the city of Southampton. Southampton was known in Old English as Hamtun, roughly meaning "village-town", so its surrounding area or sc?r became known as Hamtunsc?r. The old name was recorded in the Domesday book as Hantescire, and it is from this spelling that the modern abbreviation "Hants" derives. From 1889 until 1959 been known as Southamptonshire.
The region is believed to have been continuously occupied since the end of the last Ice Age.
By the Roman conquest, the oppidum at Venta, (Winchester), was the de facto regional administrative centre; Winchester was however of secondary importance to the Roman-style town of Calleva (Silchester).
Records are unreliable for the next two hundred years, but in this time southern Britain went from being Brythonic to being English and Hampshire emerged as the centre of what was to become the most powerful kingdom in Britain, the Kingdom of Wessex.
After the Norman Conquest William I made London his capital. Although Winchester remained a city of importance, it was the proximity of the New Forest to Winchester that made it such a prized royal hunting forest; indeed King Rufus was famously killed in suspicious circumstances while hunting there.
Hampshire was the departure point of some of those later to settle on the east coast of the colonies, giving its name in particular to the state of New Hampshire. The counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton in Virginia reflect the origins of some of the earliest Jamestown settlers. Portsmouth VA, appropriately enough, is home to one of the US Navy's main dockyards.