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