Administrative (pop., 2001: 564,559), geographic, and historic county, southwestern England. It is located at the head of the River Severn estuary on the Welsh border; Gloucester is the county seat. The Severn bisects the county from north to south. Prehistoric peoples were active in the area, as the numerous burial mounds indicate; later, the Romans had military camps within the county, and Gloucester was a Roman town of note. After the departure of the Romans, the Saxons occupied the area. Throughout the Middle Ages Gloucestershire was a battlefield, reflected in the imposing Norman defensive castles built on the Welsh frontier. The county's Cotswold area is important economically. Most of its eastern half is scenic, and a large area is set aside as the Dean National Forest Park.