Cultural heritage management and the palaeo-environmental resource: Surveying the surface-visable palaeochannel record in the Trent Valley, UK

Steve Baker, 2006

Data copyright © Steve Baker unless otherwise stated

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Primary contact

Steve Baker
Development Control Archaeologist
Derbyshire County Council
Conservation and Design Section
Shand House, Dale Road South
Tel: 01142 225101

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Steve Baker (2006) Cultural heritage management and the palaeo-environmental resource: Surveying the surface-visable palaeochannel record in the Trent Valley, UK [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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The Trent Valley Palaeochannels Database comprises a GIS archive of air-visible palaeochannel features within the floodplain and gravel terraces of the River Trent, and the lower reaches of its major tributaries, compiled by Trent Valley GeoArchaeology ( during 2003.

The aim of the palaeochannel survey and GIS archive was to assemble a body of data in a form suitable for cultural heritage management through local HERs. Two epochs of aerial photographs were digitised and geo-referenced, and surface-visible palaeochannels plotted within ArcView GIS. Historic mapping and parish boundary data were used as secondary data sources. Text data was appended to the spatial GIS, recording the physical form of the palaeochannel, National Grid reference, photographic source(s) and map source(s).

Further information, including a guide to the archive, is available at

The Database

The palaeochannel data is available in ArcView shapefile form, and can be downloaded here.

855 likely palaeochannel/ridge and swale features have been included in the GIS database. These are located in three separate shapefiles (data layers) within the GIS, due to the incompatibility of polygon and line data. The totals for the three shapefiles break down as follows:

  • Types 1-4 (polygon features in palaeopoly.shp): 658 features
  • Types 5-6 (linear features in palaeoline.shp): 163 features
  • Type 7 (areas of ridge and swale in ridgeline.shp): 34 areas (123 ridge features)

and further, by feature type:

1standing water18
5field boundary/hedge-line153
6parish boundary10
7ridge and swale (areas)34


Palaeochannel attributes

A number of text attributes were attached to each recorded feature within the GIS, as follows:

Attribute fieldExample of value
Unique ID1935
NotesPositive crop mark associated with sinuous field boundary
Notes 2parish boundary (Elvaston/Draycott and Church Wilne)
Photosource 1HSL UK 69 222_23_0917
Photosource 2RAF 106G/UK/646_3120
Mapsource 1OS 1" sheet 29 (1851); shown as active channel
Mapsource 2
Borehole recordSK58NW/1-6
Date Years BC/AD250AD +/- 125
Date sourceC14 Beta 12345
CommentInvestigated by TPAU (Howard 2005)
  • Unique ID: numbered from 1001 upwards; multiple ridges within the same area of ridge and swale are recorded under the same number (i.e. the unique ID refers to the area of ridge and swale rather than to individual ridge features).
  • Type: 1-7 as detailed above. Where types overlap (for example a cropmark followed by a field boundary), the lowest possible number is given (in this case 3: cropmark). Where more than one type occurs within the length of a feature (for example a depression which continues as a cropmark in a ploughed field), a decision will be made as to which type constitutes the majority of the feature. In both cases the additional information will be recorded in the Notes attribute.
  • Notes: additional descriptive information supplementing the Type category.
  • Notes 2: additional descriptive information, generally relating to parish boundary data.
  • NGR: an eight-figure National Grid reference given at a central point on the feature.
  • Photosource 1: the primary photograph on which the feature was identified and plotted.
  • Photosource 2: any other photograph which provided secondary information on the feature.
  • Mapsource 1: reference to any historic map on which the feature is shown; text description of how the feature is depicted (e.g. stream course, active channel, relict channel).
  • Mapsource 2: for use in future investigations
  • Borehole record: for use in future investigations
  • PalaeoPotential: for use in future investigations
  • Date in years AD/BC: for use in future investigations
  • Date source: for use in future investigations
  • Comment: for use in future investigations