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.