The regional overview that was published in 2006 focused upon the modern counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland, together with the unitary authorities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham. North Lincolnshire and North-East Lincolnshire were excluded from consideration, as they were grouped at the time in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, but in the 2012 Updated Agenda and Strategy we took into account, where appropriate, the historic environment resource of the whole of the historic county of Lincolnshire. It has since been decided, with the encouragement of Historic England and the agreement of the local authority historic environment curators, to extend the region of study to include these administrative areas. This forms a more coherent region in physiographical terms, and from the medieval perspective has created a more logical study area which embraces fully the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Lindsey that extended southwards from the Humber Estuary.
The salient feature of the study area is its location astride the interface of upland and lowland England. This has contributed to the development of a wide variety of ecological zones, ranging from the gritstone moors of the Derbyshire Dark Peak to the low-lying alluvial floodplains of the Rivers Trent or Nene and the extensive fens and coastal marshes of Lincolnshire. This remarkably diverse region has justly been regarded as a microcosm of England, making it an ideal field laboratory for studies of the interaction between human activity and the environment. Its location adjacent to the submerged landscapes of Doggerland adds to its unique character, and provides valuable opportunities for study of the relationship between the terrestrial and marine archaeological resource. We have, therefore, sought to ensure appropriate consideration of the adjacent maritime and marine zone. This area, extending from the environmentally rich tidal flats of the Humber Estuary southwards to The Wash, includes the western margins of the submerged landscape of Doggerland. The latter preserves a globally important environmental resource that is fundamental to our understanding of the early Holocene landscape of the region and its exploitation by itinerant hunter-gatherer communities, and figures prominently in the research strategy that is proposed below for the Pleistocene and early Holocene periods (Objectives 1H and 2I).
Left; Upland landscapes: Longstone Edge, Derbyshire. Bronze Age cairn on the Carboniferous Limestone plateau (photograph: Jonathan Last). Centre; Lowland landscapes: Gonalston, Nottinghamshire. Iron Age boundary ditch flanked by sub-alluvial gravel bank, revealed during gravel extraction in the Trent Valley (photograph: Lee Elliott). Right; Submerged landscapes: seismic interpretation techniques have revealed extensive prehistoric landscapes that were drowned as the ice sheets of the last glaciation melted (Gaffney et al 2009 Fig 3.17 reproduced by permission of the authors).