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Administrative (pop., 2001: 381,571), geographic, and historic county, southeast-central England. Much of the county is occupied by the River Ouse valley; its capital is Bedford. Settled c. 1800 BC by the Beaker culture, the valley was resettled by the Romans in the 1st–5th centuries AD. First mentioned as a political unit in 1010, the county has survived virtually unchanged within its present boundaries. Its architectural masterpiece is Woburn Abbey, seat of the dukes of Bedford.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Bedfordshire, visit Britannica.com.