The Thames basin was created around 450,000 years ago. The sea level has both risen and fallen, leaving deposited clay and gravel. The river’s tributaries, including the River Fleet, cut through the land, which therefore has terraced ‘steps’ revealing different archaeological periods.
The Fleet River water rises as springs in Hampstead and Highgate, but also along the river – springs have also been recorded in Jeffreys Street and in Rochester Mews. The Hampstead Water Company once provided water to south Camden Town, while the New River Company provided to the north. The Fleet now runs within sewers.
Fossils – including mammoth and hippopotamus tusks from the Paleolithic period, around 100,000 years ago – were found by men digging sewers in the 1840s and sent to the Natural History Museum by palaeologist Nathaniel Wetherell. Although found also in Holborn, these are the only Paleolithic period remains recorded in Camden at this point of the River Fleet.
The Kings Road (now St Pancras Way) was the first road northwards beside the River Fleet, passing St Pancras Church and curving around the site of Cantelowes Manor. In 1991, a Mediaeval hearth was found during archaeological investigation at this site, suggesting that it was the site of Cantlowes Manor.
The area deserves attention as an Archaeological Priority Area