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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Howard, A. J., Bridgland, D. R., Knight, D., McNabb, J., Rose, J., Schreve, D. C., Westaway, R., White, M. J. & White, T. S. The British Pleistocene fluvial archive: East Midlands drainage evolution and human occupation in the context of the British and NW European record. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2007;26:2724-2737.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper reviews the Pleistocene evolution and human occupation of the River Trent, the major fluvial artery draining Midland Britain, and places it within a modern Quaternary context. In contrast to the sedimentary records of the River Thames and the erstwhile Bytham system, which extend back to the early Pleistocene, present knowledge of the terrace sequence of the Trent, its tributary systems and associated ancestral courses extends back only to the Anglian glaciation (Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 12), although the regional pre-Anglian drainage configuration is demonstrably complex. The post-Anglian sequence is well developed, with major terrace sand and gravel aggradations associated with each subsequent cold stage. Temperate-climate sediments correlating with MIS 7 and 5e have been recorded, although deposits relating to earlier interglacials during MIS 11 and 9 have yet to be identified. Evidence for human occupation in the form of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic artefacts has been recorded from terrace sediments correlated with MIS 8 and MIS 4, but the majority of this material is heavily rolled and abraded, suggesting significant reworking from older deposits. This review demonstrates that there is a rich palaeo-environmental record from the Trent but the lack of a high-resolution chronostratgraphic framework raises issues about correlation with other systems.

Department of Geography