Environment

The original Resource Assessment contains virtually no archaeological evidence for the Post-Medieval environment, and merely cites documentary accounts of ‘bog bursts’ between the 16th and 18th centuries. Little new archaeological data has been gathered specifically on this topic since, and there are still many unanswered questions relating to the regional impact of the ‘Little Ice Age’ and the effects of coastal change on settlement patterns and farming regimes. However, this is an area of research that has been investigated by other disciplines, particularly in a university environment, which await assimilation by the archaeological community.

Some evidence for environmental change has been obtained from a landscape survey carried out by English Heritage / Historic England on Alston Moor (C), which identified a legacy of groundwater contamination associated with the lead industry. In particular, the survey revealed local hotspots of lead contamination around mine entrances and processing sites at Alston and Nenthead (C), where major ore extraction appears to have begun in the late 17th century, and is currently leading to the contamination of the headwaters of local rivers (Ainsworth 2009; Huntley 2011).

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