In the Pliocene epoch (1.7 m years ago) the River Trent rose in the Welsh hills flowed almost east from Nottingham through the present Vale of Belvoir to cut a gap through limestone ridge at Ancaster and thence to the North Sea. At the end of the Wolstonian Stag 130,000 years ago) a mass of stagnant ice left in the Vale of Belvoir caused the river to d: north along the old Lincoln river, through the Lincoln gap. In a following glaciation (Devensian 70,000BCE) the ice held back vast areas of water - called Lake Humber - in the current lower Trent basin and when this retreated the Trent adopted its current course into the Humber.
Migration of course in historic times
Unusually for an English river, the river channel has occasionally altered significant) historic times. An abandoned channel at Repton is described on an old map as ‘Old Trent Water’. Further downstream, archaeologists have found the remains of a Medieval bridge across and abandoned channel. The course of the river was altered in the area of Ingleby in Derbyshire when 300 acres (1.2 km2) was "moved" from one side of the river to another. This is recorded Shakespeare's play Henry IV - Part 1.
"Methinks my moiety, north from Burton here,
In quantity equals not one of yours:
See how this river comes me cranking in.
And cuts me from the best of all my land
A huge half-moon, a monstrous cantle out.
I'll have the current in this place damm'd up;
And here the smug and silver Trent shall run
In a new channel, fair and evenly;
It shall not wind with such a deep indent.
To rob me of so rich a bottom here."
The literal North/South divide
The Trent historically marked the boundary between Northern England and South England, for example the administration of Royal Forests was subject to a different Justice Eyre north and south of the river, and the jurisdiction of the medieval Council of the North started at the Trent. Although the rise of the “Midlands” has moved the boundary slightly (the modern idea of the "North" now usually starts at the boundary of Yorkshire) some slight traces of the old division do remain: the Trent marks the boundary between the provinces of two English Kings of Arms, Norroy and Clarenceux. Although little heard these days, phrase "born North of the Trent" is one means of expressing that someone hails from the North of England.
Places alone the Trent
Cities and towns on or close to the river include:
· Burton upon Trent
· Castle Donington
· Dunham Bridge - A57 Swing Toll bridge
Among its tributaries are:
· River Devon
· River Greet
· River Derwent, Derby
· River Dove
· River Erewash
· River Idle, Nottinghamshire - meets the Trent at West Stockwith
· River Leen
· River Mease
· River Soar, Leicester - meets the Trent at Trentlock