Most of Chalgrave Parish sits on a low ridge of the Gault Clay. In the Cretaceous period, over 100 million years ago, rising sea levels were flooding south Bedfordshire. Sands deposited on the shallow sea floor became the Greensand Ridge, north of Chalgrave; as the sea grew deeper and dry land was further away, finer particles washed out to sea drifted down through the water to become a muddy sea floor that is now the Gault Clay. Eventually this area was so far from land that little or no mud reached it: the Chalk escarpment to the south is made of the skeletons of microscopic algae. Then, 20 million years ago, the same force that raised the Alps created a gentle ridge across southern England. The Chalk, the Greensand and the Gault were exposed and eroded by glaciers, wind and rain to create the landscape we live in. The glaciers brought with them clay, sand and rock from the landscape they flowed across to reach this area. When the ice melted these became the layer of glacial till that caps the Gault ridge. The landscape shaped settlement of this area: the prehistoric track known to the Anglo-Saxons as Theedway runs down from the Chalk to follow high ground through Chalgrave until at last it reaches the low clay vale west of the parish. The earliest settlement remains known in Chalgrave are on the warmer, south-facing slope of the ridge.
People have lived and worked in Chalgrave for over 6,000 years: the villages of Wingfield and Tebworth are only the most recent settlements here. The boundaries of Chalgrave Parish were described in an Anglo-Saxon charter over 1000 years ago and include a Roman road and Theedway, a track established by travellers long before the Romans arrived in Britain.
Maps of the parish footpath network should be available in the pubs and can be downloaded from www.chalgrave.org Note that there are stiles along the route. Please close gates to prevent livestock straying.