Asser, it takes its name from a large forest of
box trees that was called Bearroc (believed to be a
Celtic word meaning "hilly").
Berkshire has been the scene of some notable battles through its history.
Alfred the Great's campaign against the
Danes included the Battles of
Newbury was the site of two
English Civil War battles: the
First Battle of Newbury (at
Wash Common) in 1643 and the
Second Battle of Newbury (at
Speen) in 1644. The nearby
Donnington Castle was reduced to a ruin in the aftermath of the second battle. Another
Battle of Reading took place on 9 December 1688. It was the only substantial military action in England during the
Glorious Revolution and ended in a decisive victory for forces loyal to
William of Orange.
Reading became the new county town in 1867, taking over from
Abingdon, which remained in the county. Under the
Local Government Act 1888, Berkshire County Council took over functions of the Berkshire
Quarter Sessions, covering the administrative county of Berkshire, which excluded the
county borough of
Reading. Boundary alterations in the early part of the 20th century were minor, with Caversham from
Oxfordshire becoming part of the Reading county borough, and cessions in the
On 1 April 1974 Berkshire's boundaries changed under the
Local Government Act 1972. Berkshire took over administration of
Eton and part of the former
Eton Rural District from Buckinghamshire.
 The northern part of the county became part of
Abingdon and their hinterland becoming the
Vale of White Horse district, and
Wallingford added to
South Oxfordshire district.
94 (Berkshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron still keep the
Uffington White Horse in their insignia, even though the White Horse is now in Oxfordshire. The original Local Government White Paper would have transferred
Henley-on-Thames from Oxfordshire to Berkshire: this proposal did not make it into the Bill as introduced.
On 1 April 1998 Berkshire County Council was abolished under a recommendation of the
Banham Commission, and the districts became
unitary authorities. Unlike similar reforms elsewhere at the same time, the non-metropolitan county was not abolished.
 Signs saying "Welcome to the Royal County of Berkshire" have all but disappeared but may still be seen on the borders of West Berkshire District, on the east side of
Virginia Water and on the
M4 motorway. There are also county signs on the south side of Sonning Bridge on the B478, on the A404 southbound carriageway crossing the river Thames, and heading north on the A33 at the start of the dual carriageway just past Stratfield Saye.