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The Cotswolds is a region of England, sometimes called the "heart of England", a hilly area (though the highest hill barely reaches 1000 feet) running approximately southwest to northeast through six counties, particularly northern Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and southern Warwickshire. The northern edge of the Cotswolds is marked by a steep escarpment down to the Severn valley and the Avon, the eastern boundary by the city of Oxford (the city of dreaming spires), to the west perhaps by Cheltenham, and to the south by the middle reaches of the Thames Valley and towns such as Lechlade and Fairford.

The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966; this designated area was expanded in 1991 to 2046 square kilometres.

A typical Cotswold scene
at Bibury in Gloucestershire

The underlying rock is a yellow limestone, and the area is characterised by attractive small towns and villages built of this local stone. The area is particularly good for sheep grazing: in the Middle Ages, the Cotswolds were extremely prosperous from the wool trade. Some of this money was put into the building of churches, so the area has a number of large, handsome "wool churches", built of Cotswold stone. The area remains affluent, e.g. it has attracted wealthy Londoners who either own second homes in the area or have chosen to retire to the Cotswolds.

Typical towns in the area are Burford, Chipping Norton, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold. The Cotswold village of Chipping Campden is notable for being the home of the Arts and Crafts movement, founded by William Morris around the beginning of the Twentieth Century.