Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 529–544 | Cite as

Farm establishment, abandonment and agricultural practices during the last 1,300 years: a case study from southern Sweden based on pollen records and the LOVE model

  • Erik Daniel FredhEmail author
  • Per Lagerås
  • Florence Mazier
  • Leif Björkman
  • Matts Lindbladh
  • Anna Broström
Original Article


The aim of the study was to identify changes in agricultural practices and periods of agricultural expansion and regression during the last 1,300 years in the South-Swedish Uplands. Sediments from the small lake of Skärpingsgölen (1.2 ha) were used to quantify land-cover at a local scale (c. 1 km radius) in 50-year intervals based on pollen analysis and the LOVE model (Local Vegetation Estimates). The results showed a dramatic change in land-cover, starting c. ad 1150, from a grazed, deciduous woodland, dominated by Corylus, Betula and Quercus, to a semi-open landscape dominated by Picea and open agricultural land. A hamlet, situated next to the lake, was probably established during the 12th century, abandoned during the late medieval crisis (late 14th century) and re-colonized during the 16th century. High values of Cannabis-type pollen (up to 10% of the pollen sum) suggest that hemp retting was carried out in the lake from the 13th to the 17th centuries, while elevated levels of microscopic charcoal indicate that slash-and-burn cultivation was practiced during the early 14th and the 16th–18th centuries. The LRA-based estimates of vegetation show that the modern landscape, dominated by managed coniferous woodlands, is very different from the landscape only 50–100 years ago. This type of study is useful for comparisons with historical and archaeological records, and provides sufficient temporal and spatial resolution to identify short-lived abandonments and shifts in agricultural practices.


Pollen analysis LOVE model Land-use changes Agricultural practices Southern Sweden Late Holocene 



We thank Annette Mellström, Ian Snowball and Kristina Arvidsson for help with fieldwork and sample preparation, Shinya Sugita for providing the REVEALS and LOVE programs, and Alex Chepstow-Lusty for linguistic editing. Fieldwork and dating methods were funded by the Crafoord Foundation, the Helge Ax:son Johnson Foundation, The Royal Physiographic Society in Lund and The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Supplementary material

334_2019_712_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 26 KB)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museum of ArchaeologyUniversity of StavangerStavangerNorway
  2. 2.Quaternary Sciences, Department of GeologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.The ArchaeologistsNational Historical MuseumsLundSweden
  4. 4.GEODE, UMR 5602Jean Jaurès UniversityToulouseFrance
  5. 5.Viscum Pollenanalys & MiljöhistoriaNässjöSweden
  6. 6.Southern Swedish Forest Research CentreSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden

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