Archaeology & Geology

Harpenden lies on the dip-slope of the Chilterns, with the River Ver to the west and the River Lea to the east.  With underlying chalk, and a top layer of clay with flint (well-known to local gardners), the area was covered with deciduous forest, but proved good farmland when cleared.  The centre of Harpenden village lies within a shallower dry valley.  Though there are no spectacular remains of earlier settlers, antler and flint tools from Stone Age hunters have been found.  The river valleys gave access to Celtic (Belgae) settlers shortly before the Roman invasion.  There are indications of pre-Roman trackways and settlements and burial sites.  In Roman times there was a network of major and minor roads, as well as Watling Street from Verulamium (St Albans) to Dunstable.  Roman finds have been located all over Harpenden.

Page link: Burial Mound in the Lea Valley
Burial Mound in the Lea Valley
Romano-British sarcophagus found in the 1820s
Page link: Geology and Soils of the Harpenden District
Geology and Soils of the Harpenden District
The southern slopes of the Chiltern Hills
Page link: Harpenden's 'Dry Valley'
Harpenden's 'Dry Valley'
A pictorial trail from Zouches Farm near Dunstable to the River Colne at Smallford
Page link: Hertfordshire Puddingstone
Hertfordshire Puddingstone
Almost unique to our area
Page link: Iron Age Burial in Harpenden
Iron Age Burial in Harpenden
Pre-Roman settlements in the Lea Valley at Batford
Page link: The First Geophysical Survey to help establish Batford's History: March 2015
The First Geophysical Survey to help establish Batford's History: March 2015
Traces of early settlement, needing urgent further survey
Page link: Traces of Roman occupation
Traces of Roman occupation
Fragments found by builders or in field surveys