Over 360 million years ago the Peak District lay under a shallow subterranean sea as a coral reef. The limestone that is synonymous with the White Peak area was formed by the millions of sea creatures, plants and shells of this early existence. Around 280 million years ago, gritstone was formed in the Dark Peak area by deposits of sand and mud residue when it became a vast river estuary. On the surface the rain and ice had weathered away the softer areas of the reef into glacial meltwaters creating dramatic gorges and valleys filled with caves, whilst leaving harder reef areas of limestone forming the protruding crags and outcrops that are scattered across the landscape. The earliest human settlers came to the Peak District 10,000 years ago. Living in caves, co-existing with the woolly rhinoceros, arctic fox, lynx and cave lion, they began shaping the landscape. Without them the Peak District might still be covered entirely in woodland.-->
2300 - 700 BC
Defined by the minerals he extracted from his surroundings, Bronze Age man mastered copper and tin minerals to create bronze tools and weapons. Using these tools he forested the woodlands which gave rise to the bare grasslands of the dales that was used for primitive farming. Burial grounds, hill forts and hut circles that scar the landscape provide a glimpse into the life of one of the Peak District's earliest settlers.
The Beaker People arrive from Northern Europe to the area, bringing new, highly-decorated forms of drinking vessels called 'beakers'.
Ring cairns and stone circles (ceremonial monuments) are built on Lawrence Field. Remains of which can still be seen today. The Trust protects over 12 of these burial grounds across the Peak District.
The area was settled with ring cairns and hut circles surviving on the moors above Toads Mouth with further Bronze Age remains on the site of the Sheffield Plantation.
The Norse gods Thor and Odin gave their names to caves in the Manifold Valley that were used extensively by man. Also the villages of Wensley and Wetton are named by the Bronze Age inhabitants.
The Beaker People local to the area built the Nine Ladies stone circle on Stanton Moor, as a religious monument and burial ground.
Burial mounds, one on a level area just before the summit and the other on the summit itself are built and would have demonstrated the 'ownership' of the land surrounding this area by the tribe. The great hill fort, consisting of a single rampart and ditch provides further evidence of Mam Tor being defended by these local tribes.
700 - 43 BC
Continuing to shape and tame the wild landscape, Iron Age inhabitants used their advanced iron tools and weapons to complete what the Bronze Age had started. Cattle and sheep herds grazed the forests further, stripping them of the chance to re-grow and allowing the grasslands to develop. Influences from Belgium, France and the Netherlands brought distinctive pottery and coins that have helped archaeologists trace Iron Age mans' footsteps in the Peak District.
Iron Age settlers from Belgium, France and Netherlands come to Britain. With them they bring iron tools, weapons, coins and distinctive pottery.
Iron Age material has been excavated from caves in Cressbrook Dale, Taddington and Beresford Dale evidence of man in the Manifold Valley during this period.
The climate was cooler and wetter in the Peak District than it had been during the Bronze Age, which can be identified by the increase in peat formation on the high moors.
The "Shivering Mountain" after the Bronze Age continues to be used as a defensive structure. Iron Age settlers build imposing hill forts on its summit. Iron Age quern stones have been found at various sites across the area implying extensive arable farming in the area at this time.
With iron tools the new settlers introduced new farming techniques to the Peak District. Further deforestation created open areas for their large herds of cattle and sheep to graze in, creating the grassland areas more recognisable today.
At Ossom's Cave there is evidence of Iron Age cave dwellers using the caves to produce their weapons and tools. An upright stone in the cave was used as a tool-making bench, whilst a bison bone showed signs of use as an anvil. A small seashell was also excavated from Ossom's Cave, which would have been used as a decorative necklace.
43 BC - 410 AD
The Romans and their armies marched through the North swiftly paving the way with their signature straight roads. The vast resource of lead and thermal springs attracted the Romans to the area, who built defensive forts to colonise Britain. Between 30 and 40 Roman settlements consisting of hamlets and farmsteads were scattered throughout the Peak District, though few reminders of their life are visible on the landscape today.
Emperor Claudius orders the conquest of Britain.
The first Roman outposts appeared in the Peak District colonising the area. There is evidence of a Romano/British settlement at Mam Nick, with over 30 further settlements consisting of hamlets and farmsteads identified across the Peak District.
Roman settlers were attracted to the extensive resource of lead and thermal water springs, such as the one at Buxton. Remains of several old lead rakes can still be found across the Peak District.
A network of roads to help communication between soldiers and forts were built across the Peak District further pacifying the area. Remnants of a roman road can be seen at Curbar Gap and Stanage Edge, known as the Long Causeway.
Caves at Dovedale are believed to have been in use again by the Romans, as shelters for shepherds.
Rome is destroyed by invading tribes in Eastern Europe. As Rome loses control of its Empire, Warriors from Germany and Holland begin invading Britain.
Vikings and Anglo Saxons
410 - 1066
A diminishing Roman Empire, laid the way for Viking warriors and pirates from Germany and Holland to invade the shores of Britain. The land was divided into four Kingdoms, the Peak District falling into the boundaries of Mercia, which was the most powerful of all the kingdoms. The Anglo-Saxons settled on the 'Peac' land as farmers, miners, hunters and skilled craftsmen.
As the Roman Empire diminished warriors from Germany and Holland invaded and conquered Britain, dividing it into four kingdoms. The Peak District was part of Mercia, which was the most powerful of all the kingdoms.
Anglo-Saxons settle on the 'Peac' as farmers, miners, hunters and craftsmen. They lived in villages consisting of small houses surrounded by fields.
The Danish word 'both' - a temporary shelter - is connected with Barber Booth, Upper Booth and Nether Booth, all in Edale. The Old Norse 'skœti' (overhanging rock) appears in Kinder Scout.
Anglo-Saxon stone carvings are scattered across the Peak District. The stone cross of Hope was carved after the Anglo-Saxons converted to Christianity and is carved with their distinctive spiral patterns.
An Anglo-Saxon tribe called the Pecsaetan settle in the Peak District, giving their name to the area and renamed most of the Roman settlements.
Anglo-Saxon stone carvers place Edale Cross on the ancient Edale Road to mark the parish boundary.
King Edward the Elder reunites the English and Danish settlers in Mercia, by marching to the 'Peac Lond' and orders the construction of a burh - a stronghold defended by local people.
Remains of a settlement consisting of a large oval enclosure containing stone rows, clearance cairns and two longhouses.
410 - 1154
William the Conqueror led the Normans to victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. They proceeded across Britain invading the Anglo-Saxon settlements that were littered across the land. Resistance was made in the north by the Saxon warriors, but they were defeated. In order to prevent any further invasions, the Normans built castles and fortresses across their newly-conquered land. They also documented the livelihoods of the hamlets in the Domesday Books, documenting the lives of the Peak District inhabitants forever.
William I (Duke of Normandy), better known as William the Conqueror, invades Britain with his Norman armies.
An attempt was made to resist the Normans in the North, which included the Peak District. After its failure, William ensured that no resistance was made again by exacting revenge on the rebels by killing off the native people, farm animals, destroying crops and buildings.
Normans brought to Britain the first stone castles and churches. Ilam Church in Ilam Park is a fine example of a Norman church.
William the Conqueror orders the great survey of his newly-conquered land, now known as the Domesday Book which keeps a written account of all the hamlets and farms in Britain. The Peak District is referred to in the Domesday records as 'waste land'.
Derwent Valley becomes part of the Royal Forest as a hunting reserve for the King and his favoured noblemen. The plentiful game that lived in the sparsely inhabited land was very attractive for both food and sport. Its designated Keeper was William Peverel, illegitimate son of William the Conqueror. Any local poachers cutting peat, hunting animals or gathering wood in the Forest would be heavily punished. Punishment included having your eye cut out or one of your limbs being amputated.
1154 - 1485
Monasteries dominated the deeply religious lands of medieval Britain, establishing granges and sheep farms in the Peak District. As Kings feuded over the crown during the War of the Roses, Peak people of the barren north continued to farm the land as they had been for centuries, but they were not cosseted from other events from the south. Bubonic plague swept across the country, claiming its victims, leaving the land with a diminished population and scarcity of agricultural workers.
Large expanses of the limestone grassland of the White Peak area was used by medieval monks for large-scale sheep farming.
"Jaggers" are the first welcome visitors to travel across the network of pack horse tracks in the Peak District carrying valuable goods. One of these routes crossed Viator's Bridge in Milldale which is wide and low enough for horses to cross.
The Royal Forest in Derwent Valley is granted to the Canons of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire. By this time much of the area was open heathland with scattered woodland used for farming.
Black Death, also known as bubonic plague, swept across the country leaving a shortage of agricultural workers which encouraged arable farming families to turn to rearing sheep, as they were less labour intensive.
As the population began to recover after the Black Death, there was a higher demand for growing crops. Steep hillsides were put to plough producing flights of ridges called strip lynchets, traces of which can be seen at Lawrence Field.
Millstones were first made at Yarncliffe Quarry, marking the first utilisation of the natural rock outcrops by man. The evolution of the Millstone Industry is easily traced at Longshaw.
Tudors and Stuarts
1485 - 1714
Victory for Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth led to the reign of the Tudors. Henry VIII, stripped the country of its religious roots with the dissolution of the monasteries. Monks were thrown out, their land divided amongst Henry's courtiers establishing new landlords and farming techniques in the Peak District. Superseded by the Stuarts, under the reign of Charles I, the country still endured a turbulent period. Civil war broke out, turning farming families against one another in a bloody battle that affected the whole of England.
Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth and the Tudor reign begins.
Enclosure changes the shape of the landscape again as land was divided up and stone walls were built to separate fields.
Henry VIII orders the dissolution of the monasteries. Ilam Park is stripped from the monks of a Benedictine Abbey in Burton upon Trent, the land sold and the estate transferred to John Port in 1546.
James I becomes the first Stuart King of England.
Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton write "The Compleat Angler" making the River Dove famous for fishing.
Black Death sweeps through the country, this time reaching the village of Eyam. The rector orders that the villagers quarantine themselves so that the disease does not spread. The wife of the farmer at Riley Farm loses her husband and children, having to bury them herself in the farm's land.
The last eagle is spotted in the woodlands near the Derwent river.
Empire and Sea Power
1714 - 1835
Inventions and industrialisation made their mark on the ever changing landscape of the Peak District. Mills and mines had to become more efficient in order to keep up with increased demand, leading to longer working hours in tough conditions. As dirt and grime overwhelmed the large industrial towns and cities surrounding the Peak District, people increasingly sought the open countryside as their sanctuary. Farming, too, had become more advanced, with The Enclosure Acts resulting in common land and farm boundaries being marked with the now iconic dry stone walls.
The name 'Longshaw' first appears in a letter written by a Mr. George Cooper.
The 5th Duke of Devonshire rebuilds the bridge over to Wetton Mill so that copper from the prosperous mine at Ecton can be carried to the smelter.
George III brought 2,300 Enclosure Acts throughout Britain. Common land was enclosed and mile upon mile of the traditional drystone walls were built across the Peak District.
A turnpike road was built through the Woodlands Valley by Thomas Telford. It was named the Snake Road in honour of the Duke of Devonshire, whose crest is a snake.
The road below Mam Tor was first built by Sheffield Turnpike Company using spoil from the nearby Odin Mine.
The lead and copper mining industry was booming. Evidence of the prosperous mining can be seen at Odins Mine. The old crushing circle still stands which was supported by a horizontal beam pivoted on a stone bearing block in the centre of the circle.
Longshaw Lodge was built as a shooting box by the then Duke of Rutland, for use when he was visiting his shooting estate.
1835 - 1901
Railways traversing the landscape brought a new lease of life to industrial Britain. The improved transport routes made mining and exporting precious natural resources of the Peak District more proficient and brought prosperity to the area. With improved transport connections, Victorian tourists came in their droves to the tranquillity of the Peak District. The tourists also became attracted to the area with tales of intrepid archaeologists who were unearthing artefacts that proved the existence of cave-dwelling men.
As railways are built across the country they bring migrant workers who bring short-term prosperity to the Peak District communities. They also used the wealth of material that the mines and quarries could produce. When they were completed the railways improved communication with the rest of the country and brought tourists in their droves to the area.
Excavations by archaeologists at Mam Tor produce 6,800 bones, tusks and teeth of bear, bison, wolf, roe-deer and reindeer.
The Stepping Stones were first laid across the River Dove, as the area became more and more popular with Victorian tourists.
A preacher recovered from a serious illness and in thanksgiving, carved biblical references into several large boulders at Curbar -- which are still in place on the roadside.
The first official Sheep Dog Trials were held at Longshaw, after a competition between the Duke of Rutland's head shepherd and gamekeeper.
The 5th Duke of Devonshire dug the first turf at Waterhouses, marking the beginning of the construction of the Leek and Mainfold Light Railway.
1901 - 1945
The prosperity of the Victorian Age was diminishing as Depression hit in the 1920s. With no jobs and little money, access to and enjoyment of open countryside, such as the Peak District, became all the more important for the nation and poorer communities. During World War II, Sheffield and Manchester used the countryside to safely guard their children from the new threat of air attacks on major cities. As well as the war on foreign soils, women were left to fight the war at home as they took to factories and the land to aid their men on the trenches bringing a new chapter to the history of industry and farming.
The grand opening of the Leek and Manifold Light Railway, but closed thirty years later.
Gothic style dams were built to contain the waters of Howden Reservoir (1912) and Derwent Reservoir (1916). 1.2 million tons of stone from Bole Hill Quarry were used to build the dams.
Longshaw was to be sold and divided. The Longshaw Estate Committee was formed and with the help of an appeal fund and a loan, purchased 750 acres (10 hectares) which was later handed over to the National Trust in 1931.
The Longshaw Wardens were formed and were responsible for caring for the estate.
The Victorian geologist Jackson undertook a survey of Dovedale. This work on the geology and archaeology of caves, secured the area as a site of national importance.
April 24th, Kinder Scout, an area of private land, was invaded by approximately 600 people. These people were ramblers from the surrounding towns and villages. They converged to launch a mass trespass in support of their access rights to the land.
RAF bomber pilots flew secret practice runs along the Upper Derwent Valley. The Derwent and Howden reservoirs were used as stand-ins for the Rurh dams of industrial Germany.
Post War to the present day
Recovering from the devastating effects of World War II, a fragile Britain began to rebuild its economy and population. The 1950s baby boom, the swinging 60s and the Thatcher years of the 80s sculpted our 21st-Century life. The mines that had made the Peak District so prosperous were being shut down and the farming communities were still recovering throughout the 20th-Century. Today, the Peak District has a new chapter in its varied history, the fight to preserve and protect the iconic landscape for future generations to enjoy and embrace.
Legislation was passed, offering limited rights of access for ordinary people to Kinder Scout. As a result the Peak District National Park was created in 1952 - the first in the UK.
Kinder Scout officially becomes open to the public.
Due to the reoccurring landslips on Mam Tor the road that runs across it was finally closed to traffic by Sheffield County Council.
The National Trust acquires Kinder Scout.
Wider rights for access to moorland came to fruition with the passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way act.
Dovedale declared a National Nature Reserve.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the Kinder Mass Trespass, volunteers from the local community planted cotton grass and heather to help restore the landscape.
The Moorland Discovery Centre is built providing new amenities for learning in the Peak District.
Kinder Scout declared a National Nature Reserve.