Web edition. Subject to change or adjustment, and new additions.

Re Think the Derwent “Estuary”?

We suggest the Derwent valley was an inland lake over much of its length below Derby [just under 50m contour] and also above ‘Scarthin nick’, Cromford till the earthquake of 1048ce.   Derby Heritage Forum/Nash & McKeown.

By Lake or raised water level what actually do we mean? Up to or approximately the 50m contour: St. Georges field on Chaddesden Park, land between Siddals Road and London Road, the land near the river in Darley Park, was probably the level during Historical times. Post Glacial it would have been higher.

Sediment of later flooding means in some cases, we walk where small boats could have floated.

How this started; or the story so far.

Brian Nash made redundant in 1995 [BREL C.N.C.], started to walk over much of the town [job search & keeping fit].  Had felt dissatisfied with the Roman Derby explanations, compared with other town’s Roman remains.  One day paused looking down Nun st. with the Public house at my back. Why did Nun St.  [Rycknild] bend here?  Its straight ahead to the first fort a minor bend right to the second Little Chester, but the bend is at a low point not on higher ground? The answer came from within or from the feet; there is a lake to your right.  Checking the O.S. maps the feasibility of a lake over the present town became apparent.

Derby Museum replied it was a new suggestion and added no Roman finds from the suggested flooded area.  During hospital visits late 2001 an archaeologist [both had broken a wrist] did point out such a suggestion had parallels with Arthurian legends –a wet landscape, thank you all.  The work situation was the priority, so it ended up in justifying the Lake as a feasibility/possibility.

A few years later B. Nash met Chris Harris which led to meeting Ron McKeown who had his own long held questions about Derby history , and Derek Palmer a drainage expert.  Derek said they had never hit rock working under Derby.

 [Derek qualified this more; there was ‘skerry’ in the Mickleover area which required blasting.  ‘Skerry’ is like a greenish compacted sand which is scrapeable but not digable.]

The feasibility of a Lake answered other questions: Why were there “Newlands” in the middle of Derby? [one of Ron’s questions].

A couple of years later and Ron McKeown published “Rivers of Time” which extends the flooded area, and as a result; is a reason as to why the Vikings could conquer middle England.

But; what other work ‘floats their boats’.

We should make this clear:  Nash and McKeown agree a flooded area for quite different reasons.  Firstly Roman road geometry of lines [Nash]; secondly on detailed study of late medieval records [Mc Keown], our different basis might also be seen as a conferring on the same result.


Final resolution will most likely depend on others subsequent to ourselves.  Let’s hope we provoke  some interest?



Ripple ledges: There are some ridges along Darley Park which look like a road, there are about four, these suggest wear by the waves at a lake shoreline.   Across the valley about the same height but modified [maybe spoilt as evidence] by building are perhaps similar features,  along Cornwall road to Cowsley road in Chaddesden.  Walk along Cornwall road from Nottingham road but go straight on to Cowsley road to cross Cardigan st. [Jennin’s hill to locals] Note fall and rise of land each side.  See also, google; “Parallel Roads of Glen Roy”.


These remains show the immediate post Ice Age water levels, eroded at the waters edge.  Exact dating is beyond our abilities.  Roman/Viking levels are just below the 50m contour about the flood level height.

The immediate Post Ice Age Derwent valleys were glacial lakes, gradually reducing to Roman/Viking times, one of these would be the Shardlow Log boat level.  Below the 50m contour the later flood plain and associated sediments.

Note Rome lasted in the east [Byzantium] to 1453 Google: “Constantine XI Palaiologos”, Vikings had contact with Byzantium Google: “Varangian Guard”.


Web source: The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, by various authors:


Originally compiled on the orders of King Alfred the Great, approximately A.D. 890, and subsequently maintained and added to by generations of anonymous scribes until the middle of the 12thCentury.  The original language is Anglo-Saxon (Old English), but later entries are essentially Middle English in tone.

Translation by Rev. James Ingram (London, 1823), with additional readings from the translation of Dr. J.A. Giles (London, 1847).

A.D. 1048.  This year came Sweyne back to Denmark; and Harold,

the uncle of Magnus, went to Norway on the death of Magnus, and

the Northmen submitted to him.  He sent an embassy of peace to

this land, as did also Sweyne from Denmark, requesting of King

Edward naval assistance to the amount at least of fifty ships;

but all the people resisted it.  This year also there was an

earthquake, on the calends of May, in many places; at Worcester,

at Wick, and at Derby, and elsewhere wide throughout England;

with very great loss by disease of men and of cattle over all

England; and the wild fire in Derbyshire and elsewhere did much

harm.  In the same year the enemy plundered Sandwich, and the

Isle of Wight, and slew the best men that were there; and King

Edward and the earls went out after them with their ships.  The

same year Bishop Siward resigned his bishopric from infirmity,

and retired to Abingdon; upon which Archbishop Edsy resumed the

bishopric; and he died within eight weeks of this, on the tenth

day before the calends of November.


Slightly different reading also included but attributed to 1049.

And this year also there was

an earthquake,  on the kalends of May, in many places in

Worcester, and in Wick, and in Derby, and elsewhere; and also

there was a great mortality among men, and murrain among cattle:

and moreover, the wild-fire did much evil in Derbyshire and



Strange deaths of Man and beast?  This could fit C02 or S02 gassings known today as volcanic pre-eruption indicators.  The volcanic history of still warm Buxton and Matlock areas might be considered, was there a magma plume raising the mid-England area?  Which fortunately went back to sleep.

“murrain” is unclear and might apply to several plague type diseases for a medieval person, CO2 [carbon dioxide] would likely be either dead or seemingly unaffected whereas SO2 [sulphur dioxide] might leave some choking survivors.

Reading these Anglo-Saxon chronicles, there was a strong attempt to get to the truth by the original scribes and just observe, things are reported as what they were seen to be.



Ship cluster  add ---- check the Derwent identity


There is a name anomaly:  ‘Starkholmes’ would make sense if valley here was flooded?

Compare “Bass’s Rec” Derby’s Holm and others.


That the valley here was flooded by some blockage at ‘Scarthin nick’, until approximately the earthquake of 1048ce?

The Romans did not find Matlock Bath!   [could it be, because it was under water?]

There is a cave, half way up the hill nearby with clean clay in it. [BN to add info; just over 40years ago went down a cave system we called ‘Jug Holes’ one of the smaller caves had a layer of deep clay.]

Then the yew at Darley Dale might not be 2K years old.


Viking attacks were of surprise nature and as such fail to explain an extended conquest into the Midlands.  But the extensive waters suggested by Ron’s work “The Rivers of Time”  would allow access –out of range of a bow shot!  There is not enough water in the standard model, to float the boats.

The conclusions given by Ron from documentary sources do give a landscape where Vikings could take the Midlands.


Ice Age end or its effects might be nearer to us in time, that is warming more gradually.  

A] Dinosaur blood parts found in the U.S.A. could be explained by the ground [permafrost?] being frozen until recently, just as Mammoths are presently still coming into view; [Russia as the larger continent thawing out last, whilst little U.K. warmed first] or perhaps dinosaur blood had no living bacteria or the fossilisation process perhaps sealed the bones against bacterial penetration. Or ‘Valley of Gwangi’ {1969} was not so fictional?  Forensic science has some study to do here. The tease here is that the DNA molecule is soluble in water, Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, ribose is a sugar.  I puzzle a little over the Derby Hippopotamus, do its bones still hold blood fragments?  Was it pre Ice Age or an imported Roman exotic beast?

B] Should we generally have been guided more by what the legends and myth narratives suggested of ‘a wet England’?  

C] Moraine blocking the Derwent’s path to the North Sea, post ‘Ice Age’ the amount of material must have been vast, after smoothing the hills and some rocks. As  evidence will sooner or later all wash into the sea, it is left to the imagination how this may have blocked, then released water flow.

Ron McKeown was first of us, to suspect the ‘Global Warming’ fashion.  I accepted CO2 Global warming, but because of Ron’s comments I began to reassess it; and MS Power-point in the hands of a master of persuasion.

A warming of the weather seems to have gone on for most of my life, when I first started in Horticulture [B.R.E.L was later] in the mid-sixties the old timers would also talk of it.  Now and again some species would start to survive the English winter.  So I was open to Al Gore’s presentation.

But on re-think; it’s the wrong side of the Carbon/Oxygen organic cycle.

I now think it is photosynthesis reduction which may be causing the minor temperature rise, which may be the Man caused component of the Global rise in temperature, along with a slow re-warm,  after the Ice age extensive freeze.

I accept that C02 allows more heat into the Atmosphere but this is a transient effect,  air is not a great heat reservoir ever noticed the quick chilling after sunset, or the dramatic chill of eclipse? Atmospheric heat is quickly lost on a daily basis.  This is controlled by the Planet’s fitted or goldilocks orbital and axis precision.  

Again notice the effect of a strenuous work,  all that heat you ‘make’ is really all photosynthetic energy capture at some previous time, turned into the sugar you ate.  Note also the coolness of plants in sunshine.  This argument may not be brimming with data, but these are all human experiences.

As most of the Planet’s surface is water, I now think Oceanic pollution resulting in reduced photosynthesis by the Sea’s plant life is the real culprit, thus the unused sunlight becomes heat.  Water is a great heat reservoir; hot water bottles, radiators.

 There is a small point to make “fossil fuel” burning must be carbon neutral, because fossils are of organic origin [coalification of plant material, oil probably], therefore the carbon in fossil fuel must be of Atmospheric origin.  Reducing the other pollutants and pollutions caused by the fossil fuel extraction and burning processes is a worthy goal. But the Earth warming may be a natural ongoing return to some balance [not of our experience] and thus may be ultimately unstoppable.

Smoke from chimneys contains particles and gas, the gas will mix into the air, particles may shroud heat at night or reflect the Sun’s daylight and some may seed rain.

True reduction in photosynthesis will result in an increase in an organic gas, you’ve guessed it CO2,  I think the result of the real problem –not the cause of it.

Thus; the spilt drips off the tanker may do more harm than burning all the fuel in it!

Sorry Al’. – Its all Ron’s fault.


I have applied latent heat principles to Global warming, though not the change of state part, that’s all.  Still very serious but perhaps more precise/targeted, maybe?

However we digress;


Our Local History might be more exciting than the consensus.  Plenty of scope for some imaginative# research.  Remember that an old document, is a document by people of the time [consider the word “Affidavit”, or, “eye witness” ], a physical trace in the landscape, is real-you can visit it.  Our explanations can be wrong and hence disposable but the documents and landscape traces still remain and still require an explanation.  

#imaginative in search and data gathering, not so much in conclusions.

Things which do not fit a common consensus;

Derby Heritage Forum is an informal group of persons who discuss all sorts of Heritage and History interests, issues.  We meet where there are suitable supplies of coffee and talk for a couple of hours.  

Most of us are retired and the risk is our work could be lost, hence this, a snapshot of where we are now.


We’ve put Derek Palmer’s  “Derby beneath your feet”  on YouTube.

We advise this should be treated as “PG” and parents or teachers should view it first and make a decision based on their knowledge of their child.