Nottingham is England's eighth largest city with a population of 275,100. The Nottingham Urban Area conurbation has a population of 666,358. With the exception of London, Liverpool and Bristol, it is the largest British city that was significant before the industrial revolution. It lies roughly in the centre of England. It is the traditional county town of the county of Nottinghamshire.
Nottingham was founded by the Celts, before the Roman invasion of the 1st century AD, who knew it as Tigguo Cobauc, meaning 'Place of Cave Dwellings'. This name (originally "Snottingham" but changed by the Normans who had trouble with the pronunciation.) is derived from the cave houses which the local inhabitants cut into the soft sandsone rocks and cliffs in the city. An Anglo Saxon city was built around where the Church of St Mary stands, on a low cliff in the Lace Market area of the city. Part of Danish controlled East Mercia after the treaty of Wedmore, it grew in importance as a Danish (viking) stronghold during the 9th Century, and was known as Snotingaham ("the homestead of Snot's people"), possibly named after a Norse leader. After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, William the Conqueror had an imposing fortress, Nottingham Castle, built on top of a neighbouring cliff top and for a while, an English town and a French town grew. It is during this period of history that the legends of Robin Hood are set, focusing on the repression of the Anglo-Danish inhabitants of the Old City by the Norman nobility in the new French City. Nottingham Castle became one of Englands most important Royal fortresses, but was largely destroyed after the English Civil War, by supporters of the Parliament. A new castle was constructed on the site in the 18th Century by the Duke of Portland, which was destroyed by Luddite rioters. The remains of this building now house the Nottingham City art gallery. Nottingham grew rapidly during the industrial revolution and became one of the worlds most important lace manufacturing centres. Other important industries included coal mining, and the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and bicycles. Nottingham was bombed during the second world war, though many of its historic quarters have survived intact, the focus of air raids having been the industrial areas.
Nottingham today is a thriving commercial centre and is the largest conurbation in the East Midlands Region. It is regarded as one of the top shopping destinations in the UK. It is served by public transport to London (rail journeys take around two hours). East Midlands Airport is a minor international airport which serves mainly European destinations. Major industries include pharmaceuticals and service industries. Nottingham is home to Her Majesty's Customs and Revenue international organisations such as Boots, Experian and Games Workshop, and the European Headquarters of several US and East Asian Corporations, such as Capital One. Nottingham boasts two universities, the British National Watersports Centre, and the British National Ice Arena, as well as several theatres, concert halls and conference centres, and a claimant to be the world's oldest public house, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. Nottingham has a second rate Catholic Cathedral. The Anglican (Church of England) Cathedral for Nottinghamshire lies in the town of Southwell. The Ancestral Home of Lord Byron, Newstead Abbey lies nearby.