The Victoria history of the county of Stafford, England
Staffordshire has from an early date attracted the attention of the topographer. In 1593 Sampson Erdeswicke began his View and Survey of Staffordshire, which he left unfinished at his death in 1603. What became of the original manuscript of his work is unknown, but several copies exist, and although they were referred to by subsequent writers, none of them was printed till 1717 when Curll issued the Survey, together with a letter written in 1669 ' from Sir Simon Degge, setting out the condition of the county at that date. The next to interest himself in the county was Robert Plot, who settled in Oxford for a time after taking his degree, and in 1677 published The Natural History of Oxfordshire. Upon the reputation he acquired from this volume he was invited by Walter Chetwynd of Ingestry to undertake a similar work for Staffordshire, and in 1686 The Natural History of Staffordshire was issued. Under the term natural history Plot included the archaeological remains of the county, and it is for the record of these that his work is most valuable. In the unfinished History and Antiquities of Staffordshire, published in 1798, the Rev. Stebbing Shaw made use of Erdeswicke's collections, and added much from the manuscript sources at the British Museum and elsewhere. He only completed his history up to the first part of the second volume and died in 1802. William Pitt published A Topographical History of Staffordshire in 1817, which is largely based on the work of the earlier historians of the county, particularly that of Robert Plot. The history of Stafford- shire, however, will always be associated with the name of William Salt, who, although not claiming to be an historian, yet collected the material upon which all future work on the topography of the county must be largely based. Shortly after his death in 1863 his collections were housed at Stafford and form a remarkable memorial of his industry. The work which he began is being continued and expanded by 'The William Salt Archaeological Society,' whose volumes have added much valuable material for the history of the county.
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Just as the county of Staffordshire is situated toward the centre of England, so the geological formations met within its boundaries occupy a similar position in the geological scale. Tracing the well-known orderly ascending sequence of rocks from the oldest in Wales to the newest in the eastern counties, we find in the Triassic formation of the midlands the central link between these two extremes.