In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Mendip like this:
MENDIP HILLS, a range of hills in Somerset; commencing near the coast in the vicinity of Weston-supermare, and extending about 20 miles in the direction of SE by E to the northern neighbourhood of Shepton-Mallet. It is well developed over a distance of only about 12 miles; and there it has a breadth of from 3 to 6 miles, and lifts several summits to an altitude of upwards of 1,000 feet above sea-level. It consists chiefly of mountain limestone and old red sandstone; and, in consequence of the prevalence and the positions of the former rock, it presents similar phenomena to those of the Derby hills, particularly caverns, subterranean streams, and veins of lead ore. ...
Its sides, to a considerable extent, are steep and rugged; and, at intervals, are scored by rocky hollows, or torn by romantic chasms. Its surface was long a royal forest, frequented by the Saxon and the Norman kings for hunting; but is now, in large degree, enclosed and cultivated. Mines of lead and calamine were worked in parts of it, chiefly within the parishes of Rowbarrow, Shipham, and East Harptree, from the time of the ancient Britons. A Roman road from Old Sarum to the Bristol Channel went along its summit; and many barrows are still upon its heights. Mendip Lodge, on one of its slopes, 7 miles NE by N of Axbridge, is the seat of T. Somers, Esq.; was frequently Visited by Mrs. Siddons; stands beautifully embosomed in woods; and has grounds containing terrace walks with delightful views, and no fewer than fifty-two grottoes.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Mendip has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Mendip. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Mendip and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Mendip in Somerset | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 19th May 2013
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