Further occupation came with the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic periods of the Stone Age when Mesolithic hunter gatherers roamed the hilly tundra.Evidence of these nomadic tribes has been found in limestone caves located on the Nottinghamshire border. Deposits 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 at Minninglow and Five Wells that date back to between 2000 and 2500 BCE. Three miles west of Youlgreave lies the Neolithic henge monument of Arbor Low, which has been dated 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 archaeological investigation. However this area and another settlement at Swarkestone are all that have been found.
Most of Derbyshire consists of rolling hills and uplands, with the southern Pennines extending from the north of Derby throughout the Peak District and into the north of the county, reaching the county's highest point at Kinder Scout. The south and east of the county are generally lower around the valley of the River Trent, the Coal Measures, and the areas of clay and sandstones between the Peak District and the south west of the county. The main rivers in the county are the River Derwent and the River Dove which both join the River Trent in the south. The River Derwent rises in the moorland of Bleaklow and flows throughout the Peak District and county for the majority of its course, while the River Dove rises in Axe Edge Moor and forms a boundary between Derbyshire and Staffordshire for most of its length.
The varied landscapes within Derbyshire have been formed mainly as a consequence of the underlying geology, but also by the way the land has been managed and shaped by human activity. The county contains 11 discrete landscape types, known as National Character Areas, which have been described in detail by Natural England and further refined, mapped and described by Derbyshire County Council and the Peak District National Park.
The 11 National Character Areas found within Derbyshire are:
From a geological perspective, Derbyshire's solid geology can be split into two very different halves. The oldest rocks occur in the northern, more upland half of the county, and are mostly of Carboniferous age, comprising limestones, gritstones, sandstones and shales. In its north-east corner to the east of Bolsover there are also Magnesian Limestone rocks of Permian age. In contrast, the southern and more lowland half of Derbyshire contains much softer rocks, mainly mudstones and sandstones of Permo-Triassic age, which create gentler, more rolling landscapes with few rock outcrops. Across both regions can be found drift deposits of Quaternary age – mainly terrace and river gravel deposits and boulder clays. Landslip features are found on unstable layers of sandstones and shales, with Mam Tor and Alport Castles being the most well-known. Cemented screes and tufa deposits occur very rarely in the limestone dales and rivers, whilst cave systems have been created naturally in the limestone since Pleistocene times. The recent discovery of a system near Castleton, named Titan, is now known to have the deepest shaft and biggest chamber of any cave in Britain.
The oldest rocks are Lower Carboniferous limestones of Dinantian age, which form the core of the White Peak within the Peak District National Park. Because northern Derbyshire is effectively an uplifted dome of rock layers which have subsequently eroded back to expose older rocks in the centre of that dome, these are encircled by progressively younger limestone rocks until they in turn give way on three sides to Upper Carboniferous shales, gritstones and sandstones of Namurian age.
A cross-section of northern Derbyshire, from west to east, showing the approximate structure of an eroded dome, with younger Coal Measure rocks to the east, and older limestone exposed in the centre
Younger still are the sandstones, shales and coal deposits found on the eastern flank of Derbyshire, forming the Coal Measures, which are of Westphalian age. All these rock layers disappear south of a line drawn between Ashbourne and Derby under layers of clays and sandstones (Mercia Mudstone Group and Sherwood Sandstones) of Permo-Triassic age. Small amounts of carboniferous limestones, gritstones and coal measures reappear in the far south of Derbyshire from Ticknall (limestone) to Swadlincote (coal measures).Some areas of the White Peak exhibit contemporaneous basalt flows (e.g. Ravens Tor at Millers Dale), as well as subsequent dolerite sill intrusion at a much later stage (e.g.near Tideswell Dale), whilst mineralisation of the carboniferous limestone in a subsequent period created extensive lead and fluorite deposits which have formed a significant part of Derbyshire's economy, as did coal mining. Lead mining has been important here since Roman Times. The much more recent river gravels of the Trent valley remain a significant extractive industry today in south Derbyshire, as does the mining of limestone rock in central and northern parts of the county.Coarse sandstones were once extensively quarried both for local building materials and for the production of gritstone grinding wheels for use in mills, and both former industries have left their mark on the Derbyshire landscape.
Green belts in Derbyshire and beyond. Clockwise from top left: North West Green Belt South and West Yorkshire Green Belt Nottingham and Derby Green Belt Burton upon Trent and Swadlincote Green Belt West Midlands Green Belt Stoke-on-Trent Green Belt
As well as the protections afforded to the Peak District area with national and local policies, there are several green belts within the county which aim to preserve the landscape surrounding main urban areas. There are four such areas, the first three being portions of much larger green belts that extend outside the county and surround large conurbations:
Because of its central location in England, and its altitude range from 27 metres in the south to 636 metres in the north,:1 Derbyshire contains many species at the edge of their UK distribution ranges. Some species with a predominantly northern British distribution are at the southern limit of their range, whilst others with a more southern distribution are at their northern limit in Derbyshire. As climate change progresses, a number of sensitive species are now being seen to be either expanding or contracting their range as a result.:314For the purposes of protecting and recording the county's most important habitats, Derbyshire has been split into two regions, each with its own Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), based around National Character Areas. The Peak District BAP includes all of Derbyshire's uplands of the Dark Peak, South-West Peak and White Peak, including area of limestone beyond the national park boundary. The remaining areas are monitored and recorded in the Lowland Derbyshire Biodiversity Action Plan, which subdivides the landscape into eight smaller Action Areas.
The Derbyshire Biological Records Centre was formerly based at Derby Museum & Art Gallery, but since 2011 has been managed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Two of Englands 48 Local Nature Partnerships (LNP) also cover Derbyshire; these are the Peak District LNP and the Lowland Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire LNP.
Since 2002, the county flower for Derbyshire has been Jacob's-ladder (Polemonium caeruleum), a relatively rare species, and very characteristic of certain limestone dales in the White Peak.:187Derbyshire is known to have contained 1,919 separate taxa of vascular plants (including species, hybrids and micro-species) since modern recording began,:409 of which 1,133 are known to be either native or archaeophyte, the remainder being non-native species. These comprise 336 established species, 433 casuals and 17 unassigned. It is known that 34 species of plants once native here have been lost from Derbyshire (i.e. become locally extinct) since modern plant recording began in the 17th century.:410 Derbyshire contains two endemic vascular plants, found nowhere else in the world: Rubus durescens, occurring in central Derbyshire,:89 and Derby hawkweed (Hieracium naviense), still known only from Winnats Pass.:263 One endemic species of moss, Derbyshire Feather Moss, occurs in one small 3-metre patch in just one Derbyshire limestone dale, its sole world location intentionally kept confidential.
The distribution and status of vascular plants in Derbyshire have been recorded over the last 120 years in a series of four major botanical works, each by different authors between 1889 and 2015, but all entitled The Flora of Derbyshire. Plant recording is mainly undertaken locally by volunteers from the Derbyshire Flora Group,:406 and by staff at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the Peak District National Park.
Map of Derbyshire boundaries with Peak District also shown. Black = modern Geographic boundary, Red = Vice-county boundary (VC57) where this differs from modern; Dotted Blue = Peak District boundary
As at 2015, Derbyshire contains 304 vascular plant species now designate as either of international, national or local conservation concern because of their rarity or recent declines, and are collectively listed as Derbyshire Red Data plants.:418Work on recording and publishing a bryophyte flora for Derbyshire is still ongoing; as at 2012 a total of 518 bryophyte species had been recorded for the county.
Botanical recording in the UK predominantly uses the unchanging vice-county boundary system, which results in a slightly different map of Derbyshire from the modern geographic county.:20
A number of specialist organisations protect, promote and monitor records of individual animal groups across Derbyshire. The main ones are Derbyshire Ornithological Society; Derbyshire Mammal Group; Derbyshire Bat Group, Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group, and the Derbyshire & Nottingham Entomological Society. All maintain databases of wildlife sightings, whilst some such as the Derbyshire Ornithological Society provide alerts of rare sightings on their websites or social media pages, and also publish major works describing the status and distribution of species.
The rugged moorland edge of the southern Pennines at Kinder Downfall
Derbyshire has a mixture of a rural economy in the west, with a former coal mining economy in the northeast (Bolsover district), the Erewash Valley around Ilkeston and in the south around Swadlincote. The rural landscape varies from arable farmland in the flat lands to the south of Derby, to upland pasture and moorland in the high gritstone uplands of the southern Pennines.
Derbyshire is rich in natural mineral resources such as lead, iron, coal, and limestone, which have been exploited over a long period—lead, for example, has been mined since Roman times. The limestone outcrops in the central area led to the establishment of large quarries to supply the industries of the surrounding towns with lime for building and steelmaking, and latterly in the 20th century cement manufacture. The industrial revolution also increased demand for building stone, and in the late 19th and early 20th century the railways' arrival led to a large number of stone quarries being established. This industry has left its mark on the countryside but is still a major industry: a lot of the stone is supplied as crushed stone for road building and concrete manufacture, and is moved by rail.
Nationally famous companies in Derbyshire include Rolls Royce, one of the world's leading aerospace companies, based since before World War I in Derby, Thorntons just south of Alfreton and Toyota, who have one of the UK's largest car manufacturing plants at Burnaston. Ashbourne Water used to be bottled in Buxton by Nestlé Waters UK until 2006 and Buxton Water still is.
County Hall, Matlock
Derbyshire parliamentary constituencies 2015 election result
The county is divided into eleven constituencies for the election of members of parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons. As of December 2019, nine constituencies are represented by Conservative MPs, whilst the remaining two are represented by Labour MPs.
Derbyshire has become fractionally smaller during government reorganisation over the years. The Sheffield suburbs Woodseats, Beauchief, Handsworth, Woodhouse, Norton, Mosborough, Totley, Bradway and Dore were previously parts of the county, but were lost to Sheffield between 1900 and 1933, and Mosborough transferred in 1967. Marple Bridge was transferred to the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport in Greater Manchester. However, Derbyshire gained part of the Longdendale valley and Tintwistle from Cheshire in 1974. The current area of the geographic/ceremonial county of Derbyshire is only 4.7 square kilometres less than it was over 100 years ago.:1:20
At the third tier are the parish councils, which do not cover all areas. The eight district councils in Derbyshire and the unitary authority of Derby are shown in the map above.
There are several towns in the county with Derby being the largest and most populous. At the time of the 2011 census, a population of 770,600 lived in the county with 248,752 (32%) living in Derby. The table below shows all towns with over 10,000 inhabitants.
Derbyshire is also host to one of the only community Muggle quidditch teams in the country, known as Derby Union Quidditch Club. The Club recruits players from the age of 16 upwards from all over Derby, and have representatives from most local sixth forms and the University of Derby. The team has competed against both the Leeds Griffins and the Leicester Lovegoods in the past and is part of the vibrant UK quidditch scene. It is also an official International Quidditch Association team.
In the north of the county, three large reservoirs, Howden, Derwent and Ladybower, were built during the early part of the 20th century to supply the rapidly growing populations of Sheffield, Derby and Leicester with drinking water. The moorland catchment area around these is part of the Peak District National Park and is extensively used for leisure pursuits such as walking and cycling.
In September 2006, a proposal for a county flag was introduced, largely on the initiative of BBC Radio Derby. The flag consists of a white-bordered dark green cross encompassing a golden Tudor rose (an historical symbol of the county) all set in a blue field. The blue field represents the many waters of the county, its rivers and reservoirs, while the cross is green to mark the great areas of countryside. The flag was subsequently registered with the Flag Institute as the flag of Derbyshire in September 2008.
In 2015, BBC Radio Derby commissioned a Derbyshire anthem, entitled "Our Derbyshire", including lyrics suggested by its listeners. It received its first performance on 17 September 2015 at Derby Cathedral.
In 1801 the population was 147,481 According to the UK Census 2001 there were 956,301 people spread out over the county's 254,615 hectares. This was estimated to have risen to 990,400 in 2006.
The county's population grew by 3.0% from 1991 to 2001 which is around 21,100 people. This figure is higher than the national average of 2.65% but lower than the East Midlands average of 4.0%. The county as a whole has an average population density of 2.9 people per hectare making it less densely populated than England as a whole. The density varies considerably throughout the county with the lowest being in the region of Derbyshire Dales at 0.88, and highest outside of the main cities in the region of Erewash which has 10.04 people per hectare.