Working jointly with Trent & Peak Archaeology, I am co-leading a project funded by English Heritage to examine the potential threats to the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills (DVMWHS) and its Buffer Zone in the context of future climate change. Empirical evidence, particularly from elsewhere in the upland and piedmont regions of the UK, suggests that the legacy of environmental pollution associated with historic base-metal mining, which has itself created heritage assets in the Derwent Valley, may well exacerbate the impact of future climate change.
The project will draw together a range of historical, geomorphological and environmental datasets to assess past landscape change within the valley floor during the last millennium; a timescale encompassing the last two episodes of well-documented major climatic instability (the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age). These empirical data will be supplemented by numerical modelling of valley floor evolution to identify areas vulnerable to future change, with results from both empirical and modelling studies being compared to existing knowledge of historic environment assets recorded in the Derbyshire Historic Environment Record. The outputs from this project will inform the developing research and management frameworks of the DVMWHS and provide wider generic lessons.