We’ve had occasional posts here about looking at Archaeology and history where you live. We may well be many weeks into the lockdown with Coronavirus but it hasn’t stopped us thinking about and working on Archaeology. Now, we’ve stayed at home and thought how could we tell you about the Archaeology of where you live? The answer was, by telling you something of the Archaeology of where we live! We live in a small parish just outside Buxton, in the Peak District of Derbyshire. Small and insignificant you might think. Well, by taking a walk around the parish and looking at Archaeology and history, we’ll show you clues which will help you delve into the history of your parish. In a series of posts we’ll look at the different aspects of the Archaeology and history of a small Peak District parish So here goes…
An ordinary wide, straight road?
Most people might arrive in the parish by car and take little notice of their surroundings, especially the road they travel on. But look at the image here. There are only two roads in the parish, and they both look like this for the most part. Nothing special about this is there? Not really, but it does tell us about how, why and when this road came to be made. Consider the road in the image here. The road here is dead straight and goes off into the distance. Many people might think it a Roman road, they were straight weren’t they? Well, yes, many of them were, but this one is much more recent than that.
It is in fact a road that dates to the Parliamentary Enclosures. There were ‘roads’, well at least trackways before this as we have references to houses to at least the 13th century. Redevelopment of roads, along with fields was common at the at the time of the enclosures. The current road dates to 1773 and is the road made as part of that process. It runs from from Heathfield Nook off the A515 – Buxton to Ashbourne road to the hamlets of Kings Sterndale and Cowdale. It is 60 ft or a little over 18 metres wide for most of its length and forks after over 400 metres with one branch going to king Sterndale and the other to Cowdale. The King Sterndale branch was diverted after the church was built in 1847 to include it into the parkland of the Pickford’s estate.
So, by looking at a road it can offer some insight into the history of a place. If you want to read more about roads ancient and modern here are some interesting offerings.
For the Peak District, John Barnatt’s recently published ‘Reading the Peak District Landscape’ is recommended.
For more general reading we really enjoyed these – ‘On Roads. A Hidden History’ by Joe Moran, ‘Scarp’ by Nick Papadimitriou, and ‘The Old Ways’ by Robert McFarlane.