Walking across the moors today, it is easy to imagine that you are in a natural landscape; a place that has somehow escaped the impact of people. There is peat underfoot, gritstone outcrops, heather and rough grazing. The land seems to lie on the margins. Appearances can be deceptive. People have occupied this area in many ways over time, leaving their mark and changing the land in the process. In the recent past, the Gardoms Edge shelf has been managed for grazing and as a grouse moor, for quarrying and for millstone production. Tracks and boundaries cut back and forth across the open ground, evidence that it has been used and owned in a variety of ways over the last few centuries.
Things change even more the further back in time that you go. There are about two thousand archaeological features between the two gritstone edges, many of them prehistoric in date. These range from a Neolithic enclosure to Bronze Age and perhaps Iron Age field cairns and house platforms. There are also more obvious monuments such as a standing stone, burial cairns, and examples of rock art. The vast majority of these features were created before the development of the peat that now covers much of the area.