The second longest river in England flows through Worcestershire and its gentle hills have some of the oldest rocks in the world. Now a peaceful county of great beauty, Worcestershire's history is a rich tapestry. The county has been invaded many times. The Romans came in 43AD and when they left the Picts, the Angles and the Jutes arrived. In 875 the Vikings swept up the River Severn, looting and burning, followed by William the Conqueror in 1066. In 1139 Empress Matilda came to England to claim the throne and in the ensuing civil war Worcester was burned down twice. Then in 1349, the Black Death appeared, killing up to half the population of Worcestershire and changing their way of life for ever. Religious controversy has played a major part in Worcestershire's history. A humble tailor from Evesham, Harold Badby, was burned to death in 1410 for his beliefs, and two Worcestershire bishops were also burned at the stake. The Worcestershire gentry were heavily involved in the gunpowder plot of 1605 and the story of their flight across Worcestershire makes for breathtaking reading. Among the many famous figures inspired by the Malvern Hills are the composer Edward Elgar, C.S. Lewis, author of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. From ancient times to the present day, this book endeavours to provide a comprehensive picture of the county of Worcestershire, which is famous for its sauce but has a wealth of other hidden treasures besides.