From forest to open pastures and fields: cultural landscape development in western Norway inferred from two pollen records representing different spatial scales of vegetation

Original Article


The cultural landscape development of a farming community in western Norway was investigated through pollen analyses from a lake and a peat/soil profile. The pollen record from the lake indicates that there was a decrease in arboreal pollen (AP) by the end of the Mesolithic period (ca. 4200 cal b.c.), and that a substantial forest clearance occurred during the Bronze Age (ca. 1500 cal b.c.). The latter, together with grazing indicators and cereals, suggests a widespread establishment of farming. At the beginning of the Roman Iron Age there is an increase in heath communities. The pollen diagram from the peat/soil profile shows the forest clearance in the Bronze Age more clearly than the lake profile. This local pollen diagram is compared with modern pollen samples from mown and grazed localities in western Norway. Both analogue matching and ordination (PCA) indicate that the site was characterised by pastures and cereal fields from the Late Bronze Age to the Late Iron Age. An expansion of cereal cultivation took place during the Pre-Roman Iron Age, and an arable field was established at the site after ca. a.d. 800. This investigation illustrates the potential of selecting pollen sites reflecting different spatial scales, and complements the cultural history of the area as inferred from archaeological and historical records.


Pollen analysis Farming history West Norway Analogue matching Principal component analysis Rarefaction analysis 


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© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Natural History CollectionsUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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