From 350,000 years ago until the last ice age ~10,000BC, Attenborough experienced successive ice ages interspersed with shorter warmer spells. Glaciers carved valleys and in warmer times flooding created the river’s terraces.
We were at the last ice age’s southern boundary and the glaciers and watercourses shifted rocks and gravels from the north, eroded the landscape and left us with a subsoil of gravel under deep alluvial clay. The ice and flooding meant most evidence of life was scraped away or sealed by gravel and mud. Later, farming further buried such evidence. However, gravel excavation in the last century has uncovered much of our local history.
Animals and trees arrived during a warm spell around 100,000 years ago, left during glacial periods and returned in warmer times. From evidence of bones and fossils found in local gravel, we had elephants, woolly rhinoceros, bison, hippopotamus and our own mammoth.
Humans arrived ~30,000 years ago and huntergatherers were active on the low terraces, valley sides and gravel islands – prehistoric flint tools and a stone axe head have been found. After the last major ice age our direct ancestors recolonised the area and, by ~4400 BC,
were early farmers using tools. Settlers were attracted by the lush river meadows, gravelbased terraces, a river crossing and good water to grow seasonal crops. Around the local river confluences, pots, mounds and crossings have been found including, at Thrumpton, a barbed antler fishing harpoon.
During the bronze age (~4000 to 1000BC) there were more permanent settlements with log boats, swords, amulets and other metal work and pottery found locally. Some cereals were grown, and animals such as cows and sheep were pastured on meadows.
Around 100BC, thatched wood and wattle buildings were in use in Thrumpton, jewellery and other goods were imported, field systems developed and coins were used for trade.
The River Trent was the northern edge of Roman development – there were mainly military camps and workings to the north. Gotham, Thrumpton and Barton had Roman settlements and villas with some mosaics. Between Barton and Attenborough is an ancient ford, thought to be Roman, and traces of an ancient bridge
The Archaeology of the East Midlands , An Archaeological Resource Assessment and Research Agenda Edited by Nicholas J. Cooper ISBN 0 9538914 7 X Published by University of Leicester Archaeological Services, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester