I. THE WELSH MARCHES
 SHROPSHIRE, or Salop, is another county on the borders
of Wales, or the Welsh Marches. The earthen dyke,
raised by Offa of Mercia to keep those troublesome
Welsh neighbours out, is still to be seen, running
nearly the whole length of the county.
The Normans built many castles, and held them against
the borderers. William had given leave to certain of
his barons to take and keep for themselves what land
they could in this wild border county; wherefore, for
more than three hundred years after the Conquest, there
were endless slayings and burnings.
Edward I. endeavoured to put an end to these troubles
by conquering the country; he had David, the last
Prince of Wales, tried at Shrewsbury, where the English
king was holding court, and put to death as a traitor.
The Welsh were so sore about this, that to console them
Edward gave them his infant son, who being born at
Carnarvon was a native of Wales, for their prince; this
is why our Queen's eldest son is the Prince of Wales.
Shrewsbury still has the keep of its ancient castle.
The Severn, the queen of rivers, flows nearly round the
town. This river divides the county into two pretty
equal parts. The north part belongs to the Cheshire
 plain, and is like it in every way—the same level
country, with rich meadows hy the river hanks; the same
broad pastures, with grazing cattle and scattered
clumps of trees; the same pretty meres. Ellesmere Mere,
which gives its name to the town of Ellesmere, is the
largest of those in Salop.
There is more corn grown on the Shropshire than on the
Cheshire end of the plain. The Welsh hills make their
way into the north-west corner, nearly as far as
Oswestry,—named after Oswald, the gentle northern king
who was slain here by Penda. The Wrekin in the east,
close by the Severn, is a hill which rises all by
itself, like Alderley Edge in Cheshire; from the top of
it, as many as seventeen of the flat middle counties
may be seen on a clear day.
II. THE HILL COUNTRY
THE Hill Country is a name that describes South Salop
very weU, for as many as six ranges of hills cross the
county south of the Severn, running towards the
southeast. The south-east corner, called Clun Forest,
is not a forest at all, but is filled with hills.
Wenlock Edge which begins by Much Wenlock is the
longest range; and the Clee HiUs are about the highest.
Between these hill ranges are long, narrow vaUeys; the
town of Church Stretton which consists of one long
street is in the vaUey between the Long Mynd and
Caradoc Hills. This part of the county is very pretty,
with hills and vales, woods and corn-fields; and,
quite in the
 south, near the counties of Hereford and Worcester,
there are hop-gardens and great apple orchards.
A coal-field reaches from Wellington to Bridgenorth,
which is a busy and pretty trading town on the Severn.
Iron is found with the coal; and Wellington, Newport,
Shifnal, Madeley, and Coalbrook-dale, are nearly as
black and as busy as the adjoining Black Country
itself: coal pits and iron-works, iron-works and coal
pits, break up the ground and blacken the air.
It seems a pity that Coalbrook-dale, the lovely valley
between the Wrekin and Wenlock Edge, should be
blackened with furnace smoke. The valley is shut in by
steep, wooded hills, and little knolls, covered with
trees, are dotted all over it; at night the whole dale
is lit up by the flames of the blast furnaces.
There is another coal-field reaching from Shrewsbury
to the Welsh hills, as well as three or four smaller
ones in the south-east.
Most of the mining country on the east belongs to the
plain, which reaches south of the Severn, taking in all
the river valley.
Seventy miles of the Severn river are within Salop. It
enters this shire straight from Montgomery, the Welsh
county in which are the lofty Plinlimmon mountains,
where our queen of rivers first gathers her waters. She
collects some tributary streams on her way through
Shropshire; the chief are, the Tern on the north, and
the Teme, on which the bonny town of Ludlow stands, on
Edward IV. chose Ludlow Castle to be the palace of his
young son, Edward, Prince of Wales; and here all the
business of the Principality was conducted. When the
king died, the prince, aged twelve, was holding court
at the castle.
 Another boy of twelve had his home in Ludlow Castle,
Philip Sidney, afterwards the Sir Philip Sidney of whom
Queen Elizabeth said, he was the brightest jewel in her
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