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Northamptonshire archaically, the County of Northampton; abbreviated Northants. or N/hants) is a landlocked ceremonial county in the East Midlands region of England. Its population is 629,676 as at the 2001 census. It has boundaries with eight other ceremonial counties. The county seat is Northampton. Other large population centres include Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough, Rushden and Daventry. Much of Northamptonshire’s countryside appears to have remained somewhat intractable with regards to early human occupation, resulting in an apparently sparse population and relatively few finds from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. In about 500 BC the Iron Age was introduced into the area by a continental people in the form of the Hallstatt culture, and over the next century a series of hill-forts were constructed at Arbury Camp, Rainsborough camp, Borough Hill, Castle Dykes, Guilsborough, Irthlingborough, and most notably of all, Hunsbury Hill. There are two more possible hill-forts at Arbury Hill (Badby) and Thenford. .
Rockingham Castle was built for William the Conqueror and was used as a Royal fortress until Elizabethan times. The now-ruined Fotheringhay Castle was used to imprison Mary, Queen of Scots, before her execution. In 1460, during the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Northampton took place and King Henry VI was captured.
George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, was born into the Washington family who had migrated to America from Northamptonshire in 1656. George Washington's great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Lawrence Washington, was Mayor of Northampton on several occasions and it was he who bought Sulgrave Manor from Henry VIII in 1539. It was George Washington's great-grandfather, John Washington, who emigrated in 1656 from Northants to Virginia. Before Washington's ancestors moved to Sulgrave, they lived in Warton, Lancashire.
During the English Civil War, Northamptonshire strongly supported the Parliamentarian cause, and the Royalist forces suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Naseby in 1645 in the north of the county. King Charles I was imprisoned at Holdenby House in 1647.