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.