Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 121–136 | Cite as

Temporal cultural landscape dynamics in a marginal upland area: agricultural expansions and contractions inferred from palynological evidence at Yttra Berg, southern Sweden

  • Eva Sköld
  • Per LageråsEmail author
  • Björn E. Berglund
Original Article


Agrarian history and local cultural landscape dynamics have been documented through pollen analysis of a peat core within the hamlet of Yttra Berg, which is situated in an upland area of southwest Sweden. The sequence covers the last 5,000 years, from Neolithic to modern time. Wood pasturing started at 2000 b.c., followed by grazing and small-scale cultivation with 500 year cycles from 650 b.c., and permanent fields of agriculture from a.d. 1150. The area was abandoned during the period a.d. 1350–1550. Three cycles of succession related to land-use have been identified for the period 650 b.c. to a.d. 1550. Correlation with frequent clearance cairns in the area is discussed. Recessions of agriculture/settlement during the late Middle Ages and late modern time are documented. Pollen data indicate increased landscape and plant diversity since the Neolithic, closely linked to openness of the agrarian landscape. These results are important for landscape restoration.


Shifting cultivation Clearance cairns Wood pasture Heath expansion Biodiversity Landscape diversity 



This paper is a synthesis of Eva Sköld′s Master thesis in Quaternary Geology at Lund University. Per Lagerås and Björn Berglund have acted as supervisors. We are grateful for financial support from the County Board of Halland. Pär Connelid, social geographer, introduced us to the hamlet Yttra Berg and has kindly provided the map presented in Fig. 3. We are grateful to Leif Björkman who has been helpful with field work and some pollen identifications and to Thomas Persson for pollen diagram preparations, both at the Department of Geology.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology, GeoBiosphere Science CentreLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Swedish National Heritage BoardArchaeological Excavations Department UV SydLundSweden

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