The Late Bronze Age and Iron Age in Staffordshire: the torc of the Midlands? Chris Wardle Development Services Department, Staffordshire County Council, Riverway, Stafford. ST16 3TJ email@example.com
As there are several definitions of what constitutes Staffordshire, it is probably worthwhile to state which of the many definitions is used in this instance. The definition of Staffordshire used below is the administrative county in the period between 1973 and 1997. This includes the City of Stoke-on-Trent and the southwestern element of the Peak District National Park, but excludes the Black Country. Staffordshire extends for approximately 90 kilometres from north to south, and, excluding the southern panhandle, is roughly 55 kilometres across.
The highest land is found in the northeast, where the Peak District rises to over 400 metres. Cannock Chase toward the centre of the county rises to a height of 240 metres. The rivers Dane and Tern form discrete sections of the county boundary to the north and west. The principal river is the Trent. This flows south from the vicinity of Stoke-on -Trent, then turns gradually eastward before making a sharp turn in a northeasterly direction, to the south of Burton-upon-Trent. The main tributaries of the Trent are the Sow/Penk, the Tame and the Dove, which forms most of the border with Derbyshire. The only other stream of any significance is the Semstow Brook. This takes a southerly course down the panhandle. In terms of drainage, therefore, Staffordshire has more in common with Derbyshire than it does with any West Midland county.
The county is especially fortunate in terms of the number of monuments that predate the late Bronze Age.1 Well over 250 round barrows are recorded in the county. Many of these, including most of those in the limestone area of the Peak District, survive as substantial earthworks. In addition, a large number of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments; causewayed enclosures, henges and ring ditches have been observed in the form of cropmarks on the river terraces in the region of the confluence of the Trent and Tame. Whilst many of the ring ditches may not be evidence for ploughed-down round barrows, a number of excavations in the area suggest that the majority are the remains of burial mounds.