former county S England in Thames River basin ∗ Reading
Geographic county, southern England. It occupies the river valleys of the middle Thames and its tributary, the Kennet, immediately west of London. Settlement of the area dates from the Iron Age, and the Belgic site at Silchester later became a Roman route centre. With the Norman Conquest the Thames valley's strategic importance was recognized, and the first Windsor Castle was built. Windsor and Eton, on Berkshire's eastern boundary, contain the county's most noted structures. With its seat at Reading, it was an administrative county from 1974 to 1998.