Staffordshire as the area of the Trent headwaters

Some today may glance at a map and suggest Staffordshire’s shape doesn’t make much sense. ‘Just an arbitrary line on a map, surely?’ and ‘Why so long?’ However, turn the map around and look at it from a Trent waterman’s perspective, as the area covered by the headwaters of the River Trent and the goods portage road taking goods to the south-bound river systems around Stourbridge. Then the shape makes much more sense. With Tamworth / Lichfield being the strategic district which sits naturally between the two.

Picture: 1620s map, turned sideways and with some huge text overlay removed for clarity. From a military perspective this must surely have been how the Angles, coming up the Trent from the east and pressing west, understood the territory.

I imagine that Tolkien might also have been rather charmed to learn that his beloved Staffordshire was shaped like one of his equally beloved trees, though I know of no evidence he ever spotted this map-turn / Trent tributaries perception of Staffordshire.


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