/berrk"shear, -sheuhr/; Brit. /bahrk"shear, -sheuhr/, n.
1. Also called Berks /berrks/; Brit. /bahrks/. a county in S England. 658,300; 485 sq. mi. (1255 sq. km).
2. one of an English breed of black hogs, having white markings on the feet, face, and tail.
3. a steam locomotive having a two-wheeled front truck, eight driving wheels, and a four-wheeled rear truck. See table under Whyte classification.

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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.

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▪ breed of pig
 breed of domestic pig originating in England, where in the early 19th century the name “Berkshire” became synonymous with improved pig strains of differing origin and type. Hogs imported from East Asia figured prominently in the improvement of varieties native to the region. The establishment of a herdbook in 1885 fixed current strains.

      The Berkshire is medium-sized and predominantly black in colour, with white on its face, legs, and tip of tail. It has a short dished face with erect ears pointing slightly forward. The breed is used for fresh pork production in England, Japan, North and South America, and other areas worldwide. A larger bacon strain has been evolved in Australia and New Zealand.

      geographic and ceremonial county of southern England. The geographic county occupies the valleys of the middle Thames and its tributary, the Kennet, immediately to the west of London. It is divided into six unitary authorities: Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Wokingham. The historic county covers a larger and somewhat different area. It excludes the unitary authority of Slough, which belongs to the historic county of Buckinghamshire, but it includes the district of Vale of White Horse and the part of the district of South Oxfordshire that lies west of the Thames, both now in the administrative county of Oxfordshire. In 1998 an administrative county of Berkshire was abolished and its administrative powers assigned to the six unitary authorities.

      The eastern end of the geographic county is underlain largely by the river gravels and terraces of the Thames (Thames, River), and there are stretches of infertile, often forested land, including Windsor Forest. The western part of the county is crossed by chalk downs, or uplands, that reach a height of 975 feet (297 metres) in Inkpen Beacon. Through these downs the Thames cuts its way by means of the Goring Gap. The Thames and Kennet valleys provide major routes westward from London for the railways to Oxford, Bristol, and the west of England. The motorway from London to South Wales crosses the county.

      The Berkshire Downs supported numerous prehistoric settlements linked by ridgeways that led particularly to the focus of Stonehenge in the adjoining county of Wiltshire. The major archaeological monument in the historic county, dating from the Iron Age, is the Uffington White Horse, which is carved into the chalk of the White Horse Hill. The monument is 360 feet (110 metres) long and has a maximum height of 130 feet (40 metres). Settlements uncovered in the river valleys and eastern Berkshire also date from the Iron Age, and the Belgic site at Silchester, southwest of Reading, later became a Roman crossroads. Berkshire was alternately claimed by the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia and was the native shire of Alfred the Great, born at Wantage in 848. With the Norman Conquest of 1066 the strategic importance of the Thames Valley became recognized, and the first Windsor Castle was built, later to become the main residence of the British royal family outside London. Wallingford and Abingdon were the leading towns in the county in the Middle Ages. Windsor and Eton, on opposite banks of the Thames on Berkshire's eastern boundary, contain the county's most noted structures. Eton College, England's best-known boys' school, endowed by Henry VI and dating in part from the 15th century, is also located there.

      Proximity to London and to major transport routes has encouraged the spread of several waves of industrial and urban development particularly within the geographic county. In the 19th century Reading, the county town (seat), was the focus of growth. Following World War I a new industrial centre grew up at Slough, while later growth occurred at Bracknell, one of Britain's new towns. Meanwhile, residential development spread westward from London, and, with excellent road and rail links, even Hungerford and Newbury at the western end of the county are within regular commuting range of London. Towns such as Maidenhead and Wokingham along the M4 motorway have attracted industrial and office development and numerous firms in the high-technology and software development sectors. Agriculture within the geographic county is now largely restricted to West Berkshire; the chalk downs support cereal crops, and Newbury and Lambourne are known for their racehorses. Area, geographic county, 486 square miles (1,259 square km). Pop. (2005 est.), geographic county, 812,200.

      county, extreme western Massachusetts, U.S., bordered to the north by Vermont, to the west by New York, and to the south by Connecticut. It is traversed north-south by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The Berkshire Hills, part of the Appalachian Mountain system, lie almost wholly within the county, as does Mount Greylock (Greylock, Mount) (3,491 feet [1,064 metres]), the highest point in Massachusetts. The main drainage is by the Hoosic and Housatonic (Housatonic River) rivers. This biologically diverse county contains more than a dozen state forests and parks. The northern part of the county is crossed by the Mohawk Trail scenic highway.

      The Mahicans (Mohican) (Mohicans) inhabited the area when European settlers arrived in the 18th century. Berkshire county was created in 1760 and named for Berkshire, Eng. Pittsfield replaced Lenox as the county seat in the 1860s. Tanglewood, near Lenox, is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Williamstown, the home of Williams College (founded in 1793), has developed into a regional centre for the arts.

      The principal industries are tourism and manufacturing, in particular paper and electronic equipment. Crane Mills is the sole manufacturer of paper used for U.S. currency. Area 931 square miles (2,412 square km). Pop. (2000) 134,953; (2007 est.) 129,798.

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Universalium. 2010.

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