Strategic Objectives Theme 2
There is a pressing need for a synthesis of the archaeological evidence for industrial activities in the Valley before the Industrial Revolution and of the associated exchange and trading networks. A review is recommended of the evidence for early industry in the Derbyshire Historic Environment Record, together with an assessment of published and grey literature. This would enable a more informed assessment of the archaeological evidence for early industry, identify key gaps in our understanding, inform research bids and guide the formulation of schemes of investigation prior to developer-funded work. It would also clarify the potential research value of data derived from the Valley: for example, as evidence for enhancing understanding of changing patterns of prehistoric1 and later2 pottery production and distribution, Iron Age and Roman quern manufacture3 and, particularly significant in the context of the Industrial Revolution and its infrastructure, the growth of the lead, iron, building stone, timber and paper industries.4
This review should also seek to highlight areas with particular potential for the preservation of evidence for industrial activity. Attention is drawn in Objective 2C to the importance of riverside and island locations as places where evidence for medieval mills and associated structures might survive, and it is worth emphasising also the potential of the Valley’s woodlands for the preservation of industrial remains. Previous field investigations, notably at Lea Wood,5 have demonstrated the wide variety of archaeological remains that might survive in woodland, together with the scope for archaeological and historical research to reveal information on the early industrial development of the Valley. In the case of Lea Wood, the discovery and investigation of late medieval charcoal-burning platforms and 18th century Q-pits6 producing kiln-dried wood used as fuel by local lead smelters illustrates how detailed research can provide valuable information on the development of the lead and timber industries and associated trading networks.
Both professionals and community groups can play a role in investigating the evidence for early industry, potentially working in partnership to maximise the available resources. High resolution lidar survey of parts of the Valley has provided a valuable framework for further fieldwork, including walkover surveys to investigate possible archaeological features and detailed ground survey, test-pitting and targeted excavation.7 Such work could shed significant light upon resource exploitation before the Industrial Revolution, especially if combined with further archival research and scientific analyses aimed at elucidating changing patterns of artefact production and distribution.
Fig.4.9 Lea Wood: partially excavated Q-pit, with fill removed from two opposing quadrants. These roughly circular depressions were dug into hillsides and provided with a flue on the downslope side, creating a distinctive Q-shape (photograph © Archaeological Research Services Ltd)
1 Cootes, K 2014 ‘The organisation of late Bronze Age to early Iron Age society in the Peak District National Park’ in Blinkhorn, P and Cumberpatch, C (eds) The Chiming of Crack’d Bells. Recent Approaches to the Study of Artefacts in Archaeology. Oxford: BAR International Series 2677, 105–17
2 Cumberpatch, C 2004 ‘Medieval pottery production in Derbyshire: a review’. DAJ 124, 86–112
3 Palfreyman, A and Ebbins, S 2007 ‘A Romano-British quern-manufacturing site at Blackbrook, Derbyshire’. DAJ 102, 6–47
4 Kiernan, D 1989 The Derbyshire Lead Industry in the Sixteenth Century. Chesterfield: Derbyshire Record Society; Willies, L and Parker, H 1999 Peak District Mining and Quarrying. Stroud: Tempus; Riden, P 2015 ‘The Industrial Revolution and the Derwent Valley’ in Wrigley, C (ed) The Industrial Revolution. Cromford: Arkwright Society, 114–15; Crossley, D 2005 ‘English woodlands and the supply of fuel for industry’. IAR 27 (1),105–12
5 Hawksley, J and Brightman, J 2014 The Story of Lea Wood: Its History, Ecology and Archaeology. Lea: Dethick, Lea and Holloway Historical Society (work conducted in partnership with Archaeological Research Services Ltd and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)
6 Crossley, D 1990 Post-Medieval Archaeology in Britain. Leicester: LUP, 23–4
7 See Strategic Objective 2B and Fig.4.10
The thick woodlands that cloak parts of the western and eastern flanks of the lower Derwent Valley have until recently attracted comparatively little attention from field archaeologists, yet there is a strong likelihood that protection from the erosive impacts of modern ploughing will have assisted the preservation of earthworks with significant potential for elucidating human exploitation of the Valley from prehistoric to modern times. The importance of this landscape zone for the preservation of archaeological features with topographic expressions is highlighted by a number of recent initiatives, including the aforementioned community project at Lea Wood,1 where survey and excavation identified almost two hundred sites of archaeological interest.
Similar densities of well-preserved archaeological remains may be anticipated in other areas of mature woodland along the Valley, and it is recommended that the programme of high-resolution lidar2 survey that was initiated in 2015 by the DerwentWISE Landscape Partnership3 be expanded to assess the character and scale of the archaeological resource that may lie concealed in woodland along the entire length of the Valley. Lidar has significant advantages over other types of survey in woodland environments,4 where its ability to penetrate much of the forest canopy and understorey vegetation permits the identification of archaeological features that would otherwise be concealed by dense vegetation.5 High resolution lidar surveys of deciduous woodlands along parts of the Derwent Valley have revealed a significant density of earthwork remains, many relating to activities such as stone quarrying, charcoal burning or lead smelting, together with associated transport routes, and provide an excellent foundation for subsequent ground investigations (including measured earthwork and geophysical surveys, test-pitting and targeted excavation).6 There is also significant potential for further documentary research – as undertaken elsewhere in the East Midlands in extensively wooded landscapes such as Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire7 – and ample scope, therefore, for more detailed study of changing patterns of woodland management and exploitation.8
Fig.4.10 Masson Hill lead-mining complex (Derbys HER 10041). This dense pattern of pits, adits and tracks is concealed by dense woodland on steeply sloping ground (top). High resolution (0.25m interval) lidar survey shows with startling clarity the wide variety of earthworks that survive beneath the tree canopy and provides a sound foundation for further survey and excavation work (source: Malone 2016)6
1 Objective 2A; Brightman, J and Hawksley, D 2015 The Story of Lea Wood. Northallerton: Solstice Heritage
2 Crutchley, S and Crow, P 2009 The Light Fantastic:
Using Airborne Lidar in Archaeological Survey. Swindon:
English Heritage (https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/light-fantastic/)
4 Crutchley and Crow 2009, 33–6
5 Eg Lennon, B and Crow, P 2009 ‘LiDAR and its role in understanding the historic landscape of Savernake Forest’. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine 102, 245–61
6 Malone, S 2016 ‘DerwentWISE project lidar analysis’. Nottingham: TPA Report 040/2016
7 Foard, G, Hall, D and Partida, T 2009 Rockingham Forest: An Atlas of the Medieval and Early-Modern Landscape. Northampton: Northamptonshire Record Society and the Rockingham Forest Trust
8 Crossley, D 2005 ‘English woodlands and the supply of fuel for industry’. IAR 27 (1),105–12
Although best known for its 18th century and later textile mills, the Derwent Valley preserves important evidence for a tradition of water-powered mills stretching back well into the medieval period.1 Documentary records of mills along the Derwent and its tributaries extend back to the Domesday Survey, while later records leave little doubt that mills and associated riverine structures were key elements of the valley landscape during the centuries preceding the Industrial Revolution. At Duffield, for example, two mills are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086,2 while Duchy of Lancaster records dating from 1497 note that the ‘…corne mills and the sythe mills of duffield and hasilwood are letton to Nicholas Khyson for a 20 year term’.3 Archaeology supports and amplifies the documentary evidence for early water-powered mills and other structures: most notably at Darley Abbey, where investigations preceding construction of a fish pass on an artificial island within the Derwent revealed sandstone wall foundations and upright timbers interpreted as evidence for a 15th or 16th century mill associated with the nearby Augustinian abbey.4 This echoes the evidence for medieval riverside structures that has been recovered during archaeological investigations elsewhere in the Trent catchment: notably at Hemington, just upstream of the Trent-Derwent confluence, where excavations revealed the foundations of a 12thcentury mill dam,5 and beside the River Erewash at Toton, where excavations on the site of an 18th century mill revealed structural timbers dated by dendrochronology to the 13th century.6
It is recommended, in view of the potential of the Derwent for the preservation of early mills and other historic water management assets, that developments along the riverside or on islands within the Derwent be closely monitored archaeologically, with appropriate contingency funds to permit recording and targeted excavations where necessary. To facilitate further understanding and management of this resource, it would be useful to compile a detailed and up to date record of the documentary, cartographic and archaeological evidence for early mills and for water management structures such as training weirs to prevent bank erosion. This could build upon the foundations provided by researchers such as Gifford1 and Fowkes7 and the extensive data contained in the Derbyshire Historic Environment Record (HER), thus providing the basis for systematic riverside surveys aimed at locating and recording structural remains that might betray the presence of hitherto unknown water management assets.
Fig.4.11 Darley Abbey: a watching brief during construction of a fish pass revealed concentrations of sandstone rubble and numerous upright timbers, some forming linear alignments. Further excavation revealed the foundations of sandstone walls, some flanked by or incorporating rows of closely spaced timbers, that were interpreted as probably the footprint of a former mill. Tree-ring dates for seven timber samples indicate dates of felling during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and hence could signify a late medieval origin for the proposed mill complex (photograph: Peter Webb; ©Trent & Peak Archaeology)
1 Gifford, A 1999 Derbyshire Watermills. Midland Wind and Water Mills Group
2 Morgan, P (ed) 1978 Domesday Book: Derbyshire. Chichester: Phillimore, Chapter 6: Section 66
3 For documentary references see Derbys. HER (SMR Nos 19419, 19424 and 19425)
4 Flintoft, P 2014 ‘Darley Abbey fish pass’.Nottingham: TPA Report 049/2014 (copy in Derbys HER); Flintoft, P 2015 ‘There’s an old mill by the stream’. Archaeology and Conservation in Derbyshire13, 16–17
5 Clay, P and Salisbury, C R 1990 ‘A Norman mill dam and other sites at Hemington Fields, Castle Donington, Leicestershire’. Archaeological Journal 147, 276–307
6 Parker, R and Winfer, J 2014 ‘Toton unearthed: Report on an archaeological evaluation on the site of Toton Mill, Toton, Nottinghamshire’. Nottingham: TPA (copy in Nottinghamshire HER)
7 Fowkes, D (ed) 2005 and 2011 Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology: A Gazetteer of Sites. Part II (Erewash) and Part III (Amber Valley).Derby:Derbyshire Archaeological Society
The great Derbyshire innovators of the 18th century, including Thomas and John Lombe in silk and the Arkwrights and Strutts in cotton,1 have been extensively studied by historians of the textile industry, but rather less attention has been paid to the small-scale domestic producers who toiled in the farms, villages and towns of the Valley prior to the development of the factory system.2 We can gain some idea of domestic textile production in that era from later documentary sources: including, for example, the accounts of the farmer and fustian manufacturer James Longsdon.3 Although his accounts date from 1786 to 1811, by which time the industry was dominated by larger factory producers, much of Longsdon’s work was still conducted along traditional domestic lines and included agricultural as well as textile products. Such craft activities would have generated employment for many families in earlier centuries, and would have supplemented farming and industrial work such as the mining and smelting of lead and nail-making. Textile work would thus have boosted the incomes of rural households and, by enabling earlier marriage and lower celibacy rates, would have encouraged population growth. Although often paid in kind as well as cash, textile incomes also boosted the growth of spending and of markets. Such pre-industrial manufacturing would also increase the skills of the rural and urban poor, which may have been a factor in attracting factory employers to the area in the 18th century.
Discussion of the extent and nature of textile employment and manufacturing in the Derwent Valley before the development of the factory system is complicated by the comparative paucity of relevant documentary and archaeological data and by the emphasis in the built environment record upon domestic and industrial structures of the 18th century and later.4 It is important that relevant documentary sources, such as parish registers and probate inventories, be reviewed and assessed for occupational data that may shed light upon the extent of domestic textile production in the pre-factory era. The Valley’s built environment resource should also be assessed, with an emphasis upon detailed building surveys in urban and rural contexts aimed at identifying structures that had been adapted at an early date for domestic textile production.5 The results of archaeological excavations in Derby6 and elsewhere should also be reviewed to establish their potential for extending our limited knowledge of textile production in the medieval and earlier periods, with particular emphasis upon the examination of unpublished reports and excavation archives. This would establish a longer narrative within which the revolutionary changes in production techniques in the Derwent Valley could be placed – and thus contribute usefully to the World Heritage Site’s educational programme.
Fig. 4.12 Finds from Derby Racecourse6 emphasise the antiquity of textile production in the lower Derwent. This site yielded Romano-British spindle whorls of pottery (60, 61), bone and lead, plus part of a perforated triangular fired clay object (59) that might have served as a loomweight and on typological grounds might derive from Iron Age activity (source: Dool 1985, fig.94; reproduced by courtesy of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society)
1 Chapman, S D 1967 The Early Factory Masters. Newton Abbot: David and Charles; Fitton, R S and Wadsworth, A P 1958 The Strutts and the Arkwrights 1758–1830. Manchester: MUP; Fitton, R S 1989 The Arkwrights: Spinners of Fortune. Manchester: MUP
2 Eg Chapman 1967, 15–33
3 Chapman, S D 1970 ‘James Longsdon (1745–1821), farmer and fustian manufacturer: The small firm in the English cotton industry’. Textile History 1 (3), 265–92
4 DVMP 2011 The Derwent Valley Mills and their Communities. Matlock: DVMP
5 See also Strategic Objective 9C
6 Eg Dool, J 1985 ‘Derby Racecourse: Excavations on the Roman industrial settlement, 1974’. DAJ 105, 208, 214–17
Studies of settlement evolution in the lower Derwent Valley have focused until recently upon the industrial settlements that were built by the mill owners to house their factory workforces,1 with significantly less emphasis upon the development of settlement prior to the Industrial Revolution. Further research is required to elucidate the earlier history of settlement in the Valley, with particular consideration of the impacts of industrialisation upon established patterns of rural and urban settlement.
The prehistoric settlement of the Valley is particularly poorly researched by comparison with the limestone and gritstone uplands of the Peak District. In those areas, abundant remains of funerary and ceremonial monuments, settlements and field systems, combined with intense antiquarian activity, have painted a picture of dense prehistoric activity that cannot yet be matched by the Derwent Valley between Derby and Matlock.2 To enhance our understanding of this period, it is recommended that resources be focused initially upon a desk-based assessment aimed at collating Historic Environment Record, air photographic and lidar data, artefactual and documentary records preserved in museums, and information contained in published or unpublished excavation reports. A similar approach is suggested for the Romano-British and later eras, although for these periods significantly more excavation data are available. For the Roman period, information has been obtained principally from excavations in Derby, most notably in and around the Roman small town of Little Chester.3 Archaeological Investigations of medieval sites in Derby and its environs, notably at Darley Abbey,4 and of sites farther upstream such as Duffield Castle,5 have also generated a useful body of evidence that would merit further assessment and synthesis. Work on the last of these sites has also provided a helpful model for site-based research, reappraisal of this poorly known but once impressive 12th century castle having contributed to the development of a conservation and interpretation strategy and the identification of potential avenues for further research.5
The work proposed above would provide a springboard for further archaeological and documentary investigations, the results of which could feed into community projects such as the on-going DerwentWISE Heritage at Risk initiative.6 Such work could include historic map analysis and study of primary documentary records, and could be expanded to include standing building recording and archaeological fieldwork (including geophysical survey, fieldwalking, surveys of upstanding earthworks, test-pitting and targeted excavations to characterise the preserved archaeological resource).
Fig. 4.13 Darley Abbey: very few of the buildings that formed part of the Augustinian Abbey of St Mary’s survived the Dissolution, and of these the most impressive is this 15th century building on Darley Street.7 It has undergone many changes of use over the centuries, including accommodation for factory workers in the Boar’s Head Mills. It was restored in 1978-79 and is now a public house (photograph © David Knight)
1 Eg Chapman, S 1976 ‘Workers’ housing in the cotton factory colonies, 1770–1850’. Textile History 7, 112–39
2 Brightman, J and Waddington, C 2011 Archaeology and Aggregates in Derbyshire and the Peak District. Bakewell: Archaeological Research Services Ltd; http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/derbyaggs_eh_2011/downloads.cfm
3 Especially: Dool, J et al 1985 ‘Roman Derby: Excavations 1968–1983’. DAJ 105, 1–348; Langley, R and Drage, C 2000 ‘Roman occupation at Little Chester’ DAJ 120, 123–287; Sparey-Green, C et al 2002 ‘Excavations on the south-eastern defences and extramural settlement of Little Chester, Derby 1971–2’. DAJ 122,1–328
4 Steer, J 2009 ‘The porter’s lodge and barns of Darley Abbey and comment on the possible site of the Abbey and its precint’. DAJ 129, 197–237; Objective 2C
5 Jessop, O 2015 A Reappraisal of Duffield Castle. Sheffield: The Jessop Consultancy; http://archaeology dataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-1602-1/dissemination/pdf/thejesso1-205394_1.pdf
7 Steer 2009, fig.3, 218-9 and 227