The evolution of the River Derwent, Starkholmes, the Via Gelia valley and the High Tor Gorge and their impact on the Derwent plain at Derby

Executive Summary

This investigation will suggest that the formation of the High Tor Gorge occurred within recent history and may not have existed during the Roman occupation.

Following on from the investigation carried out to determine whether or not the late date for formation of the gorge is a rational conclusion the possibility arises that much of the landscape associated with the river Derwent is also recent in geological terms.

This investigation suggests that the route of the Derwent before the High Tor Gorge formed was via the depression still visible at Starkholmes. Consequently it can be assumed that prior to the formation of the Starkholmes depression the bulk of the river would have exited the peak at the next lowest point which seems to be in the Ashover area where the Derwent would have carved out the large valley presently occupied by the small River Amber.

The same geological arguments presented in this investigation suggest that the “Via Gellia” valley is of a similar date and that it's formation followed a similar pattern to that of the Derwent valley.

The lower Derwent valley, south of Cromford, also fits the pattern of recent formation and it's level during the Roman occupation may have been determined by a rock barrier at Millford, the remains of which are still visible today. Between Cromford and Millford are a number of rock features similar in nature to the one at Millford which would also have restricted the flow of the Derwent and determined it's eventual course.

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  1. Re-evaluating Roman Derby
  2. Matlock Bath and the High Tor Gorge
  3. The Lake
  4. Development of the River Valley below High Tor
  5. Bibliography