Derbyshire

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Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The northern part of Derbyshire overlaps with the Pennines, a famous chain of hills and mountains. The county contains part of the National Forest, and borders on Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Cheshire. Derbyshire can make some claims to be at the centre of Britain: a farm near Coton in the Elms has been identified as the furthest from the sea, whilst Rodsley and Overseal were the centres of population during the twentieth century.

The city of Derby is now a unitary authority area, but remains part of the ceremonial county of Derbyshire. The non-metropolitan county contains 13 towns with between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants. There is a large amount of sparsely populated agricultural upland: 75% of the population live in 25% of the area. Although Derbyshire is in the East Midlands, some parts, such as High Peak, are closer to the northern cities of Manchester and Sheffield and these parts do receive services which are more affiliated with Northern England, for example North West Ambulance Service, Granada Television, united utilities serve the High Peak and some NHS Trust within this region are governed by the Greater Manchester Health Authorities. Outside the main city of Derby, the largest town in the county is Chesterfield.

The area that is now Derbyshire was first visited, probably briefly, by humans 200,000 years ago during the Aveley interglacial as evidenced by a Middle Paleolithic Acheulian hand axe found near Hopton. Further occupation came with the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic periods of the Stone Age when Mesolithic hunter gatherers roamed the hilly tundra. The evidence of these nomadic tribes is centred around limestone caves located on the Nottinghamshire border. Desposits left in the caves date the occupancy at around 12,000 to 7,000 BCE.

Burial mounds of Neolithic settlers are also situated throughout the county. These chambered tombs were designed for collective burial and are mostly located in the central Derbyshire region. There are tombs in Minning Low, and Five Wells, which date back to between 2000 and 2500 BCE. Three miles west of Youlgreave lies the Neolithic henge monument of Arbor Low, This can be dated back to 2500 BCE.

It is not until the Bronze Age that real signs of agriculture and settlement are found in the county. In the moors of the Peak District signs of clearance, arable fields and hut circles were discovered after archeological investigation. However this area and another settlement at Swarkestone are all that have been found.

During the Roman invasion the invaders were attracted to Derbyshire because of the lead ore in the limestone hills of the area. They settled throughout the county with forts built near Brough in Hope Valley and near Glossop. Later they settled around Buxton, famed for its warm springs, and set up a fort near modern day Derby in an area now known as Little Chester.

Several kings of Mercia are buried in the Repton area.

Following the Norman Conquest, much of the county was subject to the forest laws. To the North West was the Forest of High Peak under the custodianship of William Peverel and his descendants. The rest of the county was bestowed upon Henry de Ferrers, a part of it becoming Duffield Frith. In time the whole area was given to the Duchy of Lancaster. Meanwhile the Forest of East Derbyshire covered the whole county to the east of the River Derwent from the reign of Henry II to that of Edward I.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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