, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 17-30

Human impact on mid- and late Holocene vegetation in south Cumbria, UK

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Abstract

The use of 9 pollen sampling sites and 56 14C dates has identified hitherto unsuspected or poorly-defined sequences of mid- to late Holocene (late Neolithic to post-Medieval) anthropogenic vegetation changes in south Cumbria, U.K. A series of small-scale, but significant woodland clearance episodes are recorded throughout the Bronze Age, followed by a marked recession in activity during the early Iron Age. The late Iron Age-Roman periods witnessed the first major clearance of woodland in the region which was succeeded by woodland regeneration in the post-Roman/early Medieval period. Woodland clearance intensified in the later Medieval period culminating in large areas of permanently open landscape. The results show that high-resolution, independently date pollen analysis is necessary to reveal regional evidence of small, temporary Bronze Age clearances. A well-documented prehistoric wooden trackway from Foulshaw Moss is shown to be significantly older than previously thought, dating to the mid-Bronze Age, ca. 1550–1250 cal B.C. Pre-Roman cereal cultivation in the area is also confirmed.

The Department of Earth Sciences