|11 November 2003
6,000 years at Chatsworth
The most comprehensive archaeological survey ever undertaken of the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire (England) has just been completed, revealing new information about the people who lived in the area and worked the land over the past 6,000 years. Focussing on around 50 sq km of the central part of the estate, the survey has mapped some 3,500 archaeological and landscape features. Funded by English Heritage and conducted by a team from the Peak District National Park Authority led by Senior Archaeologist John Barnatt, the five year project has identified ancient features such as burial mounds, stone circles, and cairns marking areas of early cultivation.
Later points of interest include 800-year-old millstone quarries, evidence of coal mining dating back hundreds of years, and earthworks serving as field boundaries which trace cultivation over 1,000 years – among the best examples in the UK. Land at Chatsworth has been used for grazing since the 18th century but the ancient cultivation terraces, ridges and furrows can still be seen in the form of grass mounds.
Roger Wardle, Agent to the Duke of Devonshire and the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees, said: “We are grateful to English Heritage for funding the survey, which will enable us to continue to preserve these important features.” The survey was presented to the Duchess of Devonshire at a ceremony on 31 October 2003.
Jon Humble, Regional Inspector of Ancient Monuments with English Heritage, says: “The landscape is our most precious historical document – its archaeological sites and monuments are the only evidence we have for the majority of human history. The survey enables us to link the past with present and future needs – and it will enhance the enjoyment of the wider landscape for the many visitors to Chatsworth.”
Sources: The Peak District National Park Authority, via The Megalithic Portal (9 November 2003)
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