district, administrative and historic county of Somerset, southwestern England, about 20 miles (32 km) south of the city of Bristol. It is named after the most prominent feature in the district, the Mendip Hills, a limestone tableland with a summit more than 800 feet (240 metres) high in the northwest. The Mendips extend for about 25 miles (40 km) from between the parishes (towns) of Frome and Bruton in the eastern part of the district to its northwestern corner and drop steeply to the south, forming many caves and combes (deep narrow valleys), the latter extending to the alluvium-filled easterly extension of the Sedgemoor Basin.Pigs, sheep, poultry, and large herds of dairy and beef cattle are raised on the fertile lowlands. A variety of local industries are based on the processing of these animals' products; shoes are produced at Street and Shepton Mallet, woolen goods at Glastonbury, and cheese at Wells. Frome, the largest town in the district, has a light industrial base including printing, metal casting, and carpeting. Many of the district's villages, as well as the famous medieval cathedral at Wells and the abbey at Glastonbury, are built of the locally quarried, high-quality Doulting limestone. The district seat of Shepton Mallet is in the centre of a cider-apple-growing area. Area 285 square miles (739 square km). Pop. (2001) 103,865.
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