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Plotting The Course Of The River Eden Through Carlisle, Documentary Search and GIS Plot

Cook, Jo (2004) Plotting The Course Of The River Eden Through Carlisle, Documentary Search and GIS Plot. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Recent work at Hardwicke Circus, Carlisle in 2004 discovered evidence of possible palaeochannels of the River Eden. Oxford Archaeology North (OAN) were asked by the County Council to carry out a programme of documentary research and GIS mapping to plot the course of the river in former times. Searches were made at the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) in Kendal, where events recording evidence for river silts were identified, and the County Record Office (CRO) in Carlisle where several historical maps were consulted. The data from stage one of the Carlisle Archives Project (OAN 2003) was also consulted to provide further information on sites that uncovered evidence of river silts and palaeochannels.

Prior to the sixteenth century, it would appear that the course of the river was fairly constant. Its course outside the immediate environs of the medieval city is not known, but it would appear to had a large bend southwards to the east of the castle, looping back northwards until it was roughly in the same channel as the present day. This loop appears to have been longer and wider in prehistoric and Roman times than in the earlier post-medieval period. The low-lying ground in what is now Rickerby Park was subject to periodic flooding and may have been very boggy and wet at all times. It is likely that there was a bridge across the river in the Roman period, close to the location of the modern bridge.

In a catastrophic flood in 1571 the Eden broke a new course to the north of its old channel forming a small island between the streams. This was known as The Sands and was used as a cattle market. The bridges were replaced several times, and there is documentary evidence that the Eden broke its banks on other occasions too. During a programme of modernisation in the early nineteenth century the southern channel of the Eden was blocked, and the northern channel was widened and straightened. The modern bridge was built in 1814 and was widened in 1931. The course of the Eden appears to have been constant since the early nineteenth century.

It has therefore been possible to indicate the past course of the River Eden through time. There are indications too that episodes of flooding will have left river silts over a wider area. Interventions from the area north of the Lanes shopping centre to the present course of the river, taking in the area of Hardwicke Circus to the east and the Willow Holme industrial estate to the west could expect to encounter river silts, although their dating would not always be secure.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cumbria
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology North
Depositing User: barker
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2021 13:23
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2021 13:23
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/5627

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