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 attracted industrial and office development and numerous firms in the high-technology and software development sectors.

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.

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.

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.

In 1998 an administrative county of Berkshire was abolished, and its administrative powers were 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, 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.

Wallingford and Abingdon were the leading towns in the county in the Middle Ages.