Trent Valley Landscapes: The Archaeology of 500,000 Years of Change

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9780954445645: Trent Valley Landscapes: The Archaeology of 500,000 Years of Change
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Current Archaeology No. 197 - May/June 2005. Jeffrey May. The River Trent is the third longest river in Britain and has the second largest drainage area (7490 sq.km). It forms a boundary between a higher zone to the north, and the great stretch of English lowlands to the south. It has also been one of Britain's most neglected regions, and only since the Royal Commission's 1960 book A Matter of Time has it been realized that the Trent valley was densely populated from at least Neolithic times. So how do you set about finding out about this occupation? There are few sites dramatic enough to make newspaper headlines. But patient work over many years has been in progress, from 1968 by what is now the Trent & Peak Archaeological Unit, later joined by field units at Leicester and Birmingham Universities, with a quickening pace of activity since about 1990 as more funds and more archaeologists have been employed. Large numbers of excavations have been carried out, mainly rescue ones, together with studies of the geology, early climates and vegetations. And now we have the results: the first major survey of the Valley allowing the region to take its place among the key regions of early settlements such as the Thames valley and Wessex, which have been more fortunate in their archaeology. The survey concentrates on a ten-kilometre zone along each side of the river. It would be tedious to mention every development from the Lower Palaeolithic to the medieval period. Although evidence is sparse for the Ice Age phases, from Neolithic times there are ceremonial monuments such as causewayed enclosures, cursuses, a double post alignment and barrows as significant as any in the upper Thames and Wessex. There are settlements, too, such as at Willington , and lesser-known features such as fish weirs and mysterious burnt mounds. Increasingly the landscape came to be enclosed, no doubt as agricultural prosperity allowed the population to grow. Iron Age settlements are common, and Roman ones no less so. Perhaps the most amazing site is the huge Anglo-Saxon settlement at Catholme revealed by Stuart Losco-Bradley.

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David Knight is a freelance graphic designer and web developer. He began cataloguing the works of Gerald Laing in 2008, working closely with Laing to develop his website. He has continued to work with the artist’s estate to produce this catalogue raisonné.

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