The county became an administrative unit in 1041 after the recovery of Mercia from the Danes and was important in the Middle Ages as a monastic center. The northern part of the historical county, with iron and coal deposits, verges into the industrial Midlands area known as the Black Country, but the area is now administratively separate. In 1974, Worcestershire was combined with Herefordshire in the nonmetropolitan county of Hereford and Worcester, but in 1998 the counties were again separated.
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