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Year 4 History and Geography

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This is an activity adapted from the History and Geography section of the What Your Year 4 Child Needs to Know resource book. To learn more about using Core Knowledge UK resource books, please visit the dedicated pages for teachers, parents, grandparents and home educators. To purchase What Your Year 4 Child Needs to Know, visit our shop. Also, sign up for the free Core Knowledge UK newsletter to receive updates about new resources and activities.


Geography of South West England

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The South West of England is made up of the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. It is one of the warmest parts of Britain because it is the furthest south and the first area to be warmed by the Gulf Stream. This is one of the reasons why many places in the South West are popular with tourists from other parts of the UK and abroad.

Cornwall, for example, is famous for its beaches and beautiful coastline. You can see from looking at a map of the UK that the county of Cornwall juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. The strong ocean waves not only make it a popular place for surfing but also erode the coastline. Coastal erosion happens when strong waves batter the land, causing bits of rock and soil to break off into the sea. It happens wherever land meets the sea, but in places like the south-west coast it happens more quickly because of the Atlantic Ocean's big waves hitting the land. The effects of erosion can be seen in places such as the jagged cliffs at Landís End, at the very south- west of Britain.

The warmer climate in the South West means that much of the land is well suited to farming. There are many different types of agriculture (this means farming) that take place in the South West. Where the land is flat and the soil is fertile, the warm weather makes it a good place to grow fruit and vegetables. The county of Somerset is well known for growing apples. It is also the home of the town of Cheddar, after which the cheese is named, and lots of cheese is made in this part of the country because of all the cows here. Just west of Somerset, in Devon, dairy products like cheese and cream are produced too.

The South West is a popular place to visit for more than its good weather and food: there are also many interesting natural and man-made landmarks to see. In the county of Wiltshire is the world-famous ancient monument Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a giant circle of standing stones that was built over four thousand years ago! Nobody really knows why (or how!) the huge rectangular stones were put up here.

The region is rich in tall tales and legends. Tintagel Castle in Cornwall and Glastonbury in Somerset are linked with events in the life and death of King Arthur. Althelney, also in Somerset, is where King Alfred burnt the cakes.

On the Dorset coastline, coastal erosion has created many interesting and beautiful natural landmarks. One of these is Durdle Door, a giant rock arch made of limestone stretching out into the sea. The South West has many other popular natural landmarks, such as Cheddar Gorge in Somerset. A gorge is a steep valley where the land has been worn away by a river and Cheddar Gorge is a very dramatic natural feature. The hilly land of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor provide bleak but beautiful landscapes for people to enjoy.

Generally, the South West is quite a rural area of Britain, but there are some bigger towns and cities there too. Bristol is the largest. It has a rich seafaring history. Nearby, the city of Bath was an ancient Roman settlement and some ancient buildings still survive here, most famously the Roman Baths where the water is already hot as it comes out of the ground. Exeter was a Roman settlement too. It is now known for its cathedral and university.

On the south coast of Dorset, the town of Bournemouth has been a popular tourist resort for people to come and spend time by the seaside since the nineteenth century. The Dorset coastline was once home to Jurassic dinosaurs. Fossils are still being found there and the Natural History Museum has a Scelidosaurus from Dorset in its collection.

This activity is adapted from pages 111 - 115 of What Your Year 4 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.