The area has always been defined by the River Trent, which is the third longest river in the United Kingdom. Its source is in Staffordshire on the southern edge of Biddulph Moor. It flows through and drains most of the metropolitan central and northern Midlands south and east of its source north of Stoke-on-Trent. The river is known for dramatic flooding after storms and spring snowmelt, which in past times often caused the river to change course. This is evident in abundance with heavy clay and sand deposits in most locations in the Ward.
In ancient times the River in these parts was much winder than now and could be crossed on foot at low tide. The is a lot of archaeological evidence showing Human activity since the end of the Ice Age. Settlements have occurred all along the River Trent in the low gravel terraces along the edges and on the 'islands' within the floodplain. People have come to the area, attracted by transport, food, defence and the resources the River Trent and surrounding area has to offer.
The earliest evidence of human impact on the area appears after 5000 BC, when the first farmers made significant clearances in the woodland for cultivation and pasture, by grazing domestic animals and the use of fire.
By 2000 BC there were extensive areas of clearance in the area and an increased population. The ritual importance of the river during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age is also shown in finds of human skulls and prestigious metal objects. Early settlement remains are rare, however, consisting of the occasional pit found during excavations, and stone tools and rare pieces of pottery found in fields, gravel workings or building sites. During the middle and late Bronze Ages there were a number of floods which were caused by the increasing opening-up of the landscape over a large area. By the Iron Age the population of the area had increased considerably, and by the time of the Roman period the area was occupied by farms and fields with negligible woodland, which is very similar to the present day.
1564 - 1616: William Shakespeare:
— William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, act 3, scene 1
The bard talks of what became known as Burton Round before the River Tent breached the land and made a new course to its present position in 1792.
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.— William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, act 3, scene 1