What patterns emerge when you map historic place-names against river catchment areas? And might the resulting maps provide a useful starting point for thinking about how land was once managed and, perhaps, more importantly how it might be managed once again?
In the maps, which can be accessed from the links below, we have plotted the place-name evidence for the former existence (and removal) of woodland, wetland areas, and uncultivated ground. What these reveal is the extent of former landuse that potentially slowed the flow of water into our river systems. Modern practicalities mean that it will not be possible to put the landscape back to what it once was, but we would suggest that they do at least offer a new ways of thinking about woodland and wetland restoration and the role of natural defences in flood mitigation schemes.
River Calder YOR: ‘hard, rapid, violent stream’
River Darent KNT ‘abounding with oaks’
River Derwent CUM ‘abounding with oaks’
River Dart DEV ‘abounding with oaks’
River Eden CUM/WML: ‘water’
River Erewash DRB/NTT: ‘wandering stream’ later becoming ‘a washing, a flood’
River Exe DEV: ‘move swiftly’
River Itchen WAR: ‘healthy’?
River Meese SHP/STF: ‘poss. mossy’
River Ouse SSX: ‘mud river’
River Ouse YOR: river-name unexplained
River Roden SHP: ‘swift river’
River Teme SHP/HER/WOR: ‘flow’
River Tern SHP/STF: ‘the powerful one’
River Welland LEI/NTH: ‘welling, bubbling stream’
River Wreake LEI/RUT: ‘crooked, twisted’