The Cotswolds are a range of limestone hills stretching from Bath to Chipping Campden. To the west they have a scarp slope rising out of the Severn Vale to the highest point at Cleeve Common (1083 feet). From here they slope gently eastwards towards the upper Thames Valley drained by rivers such as the Coln and the Windrush.

The underlying stone with its thin soils is responsible for the now scarce limestone grasslands that support a wonderful range of wild flowers including many orchids. In medieval times these grasslands were used to raise vast flocks of sheep and the region around Stroud became the centre of the West Country wool trade.

At the time of the enclosures the hills were divided up with the now famous Cotswold dry stone walls. The stone is also responsible for the world-renowned Cotswold architecture; cottages with mullioned windows and stone roofs, barns built along the same lines as churches, and whole villages blending into the landscape from which they were created.

Famous settlements include Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh, Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury, Fairford, Northleach, Burford and Castle Combe.

For a complete listing of towns and villages featured as stock photos in the Cotswolds Photo Library, please click: List of Towns and Villages in the Cotswolds.