Long-term development of landscape openness and arable land use in an agricultural region of southern Sweden: the potential of REVEALS estimates using pollen records from wells

  • Per LageråsEmail author
  • Erik Daniel Fredh
Original Article


The twofold aim of this study was to investigate the long-term landscape development in an intensely cultivated region of south-western Scania, southern Sweden, and to discuss the potential of pollen records from wells for this purpose. Pollen records from 36 different wells from 12 archaeological sites were compiled. Based on 35 of the wells, ranging ca 800 cal bc–cal ad 1900, regional vegetation cover for seven different time-windows was quantified using the REVEALS model and a multiple small sites approach. According to the REVALS output, landscape openness was high and relatively constant during the last ca 2,500 years (open-land vegetation covered 90–97%), whereas arable land use expanded more gradually (cereal vegetation expanded from 9% cover 800–500 bc to 38% cover ad 1700–1900). This gradual increase in arable farming at the expense of grassland enabled an increase in food production within an already agriculturally colonized landscape. The REVEALS estimates based on pollen records from wells were in general accordance with earlier published REVEALS reconstructions based on lake sediments from neighbouring regions. A GIS analysis of arable land use in south-western Scania around ad 1800, based on old cadastral maps, gave similar results as the REVEALS reconstruction of cereal vegetation cover for the ad 1700–1900 time-window. It gives support to the conclusion that pollen records from wells may be used for REVEALS reconstructions of past vegetation cover.


Well Pollen REVEALS Arable land use Landscape openness 



We thank the anonymous reviewers for constructive comments. The paper was presented at the EAA meeting in Barcelona 2018, at the session ‘Exploring the Potential of Palynology in Archaeological Contexts’.

Supplementary material

334_2019_756_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (806 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 805 kb)
334_2019_756_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (26 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 26 kb)


  1. Alexandersson H, Karlström C, Larsson-McCann S (1991) Temperaturen och nederbörden i Sverige 1960–1990. Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, NorrköpingGoogle Scholar
  2. Berglund BE, Ralska-Jasiewiczowa M (1986) Pollen analysis and pollen diagrams. In: Berglund BE (ed) Handbook of Holocene palaeoecology and palaeohydrology. Wiley, Chichester, pp 455–484Google Scholar
  3. Björhem N, Magnusson Staaf B (2006) Långhuslandskapet – en studie av bebyggelse och samhälle från stenålder till järnålder (English summary). Öresundsförbindelsen och arkeologin. Malmö Kulturmiljö, MalmöGoogle Scholar
  4. Björkman L (1997) The role of human disturbance in the local Late Holocene establishment of Fagus and Picea forests at Flahult, Western Småland, Southern Sweden. Veget Hist Archaeobot 6:79–90. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bronk Ramsey C (2009) Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 51:337–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Broström A, Sugita S, Gaillard M-J (2004) Pollen productivity estimates for the reconstruction of past vegetation cover in the cultural landscape of southern Sweden. Holocene 14:368–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brozio JP, Dörfler W, Feeser I, Kirleis W, Klooß S, Müller J (2014) A Middle Neolithic well from Northern Germany: a precise source to reconstruct water supply management, subsistence economy, and deposition practices. J Archaeol Sci 51:135–153. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cui Q-Y, Gaillard M-J, Lemdahl G, Stenberg L, Sugita S, Zernova G (2014) Historical land-use and landscape change in southern Sweden and implications for present and future biodiversity. Ecol Evol 4:3,555–3,570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dahl S (1968) Vångalag i Skåne. Ymer 80:72–86Google Scholar
  10. Eisenhut G (1961) Untersuchungen über die Morphologie und Ökologie der Pollenkörner heimischer und fremdländischer Waldbäume. Paul Parey, HamburgGoogle Scholar
  11. Emanuelsson U (1988) A model for describing the development of the cultural landscape. In: Birks HH, Birks HJB, Kaland PE, Moe D (eds) The cultural landscape: past, present and future. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 111–121Google Scholar
  12. Engelmark R (1992) A review of the farming economy in South Scania based on botanical evidence. In: Larsson L, Callmer J, Stjernquist B (eds) The archaeology of the culture landscape—field work and research in a south Swedish rural region. Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Series in 4° 19. Almqvist & Wiksell, Stockholm, pp 369–374Google Scholar
  13. Erlström M, Lidmar-Bergström K, Liljegren R, Malmberg-Persson K, Schlyter P, Sivhed U, Wikman H (1999) Berg och jord. In: Germundsson T, Schlyter P (eds) Atlas över Skåne. Sveriges Nationalatlas, Stockholm, pp 10–29Google Scholar
  14. Figueiral I, Pomarèdes H, Court-Picon M, Bouby L, Tardy C, Terral J-F (2015) New insights into Mediterranean Gallo-Roman farming: a closer look at archaeological wells in Southern France. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 7:201–233. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fredh D, Broström A, Rundgren M, Lagerås P, Mazier F, Zillén L (2013) The impact of land-use change on floristic diversity at regional scale in southern Sweden 600 bc-ad 2008. Biogeosciences 10:3,159–3,173. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fredh ED, Lagerås P, Mazier F, Björkman L, Lindbladh M, Broström A (2019) 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. Veget Hist Archaeobot 28:529–544. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grabowski R (2011) Changes in cereal cultivation during the Iron Age in southern Sweden: a compilation and interpretation of the archaeobotanical material. Veget Hist Archaeobot 20:479–494. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gräslund B, Price N (2012) Twilight of the gods? The ‘dust veil event’ of ad 536 in critical perspective. Antiquity 86:428–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Greisman A, Gaillard M-J (2008) The role of climate variability and fire in early and mid Holocene forest dynamics of southern Sweden. J Quat Sci 24:593–611. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Grimm E (1992) TILIA and TILIA GRAPH: Pollen spreadsheet and graphics program. In: 8th international palynological congress (Aix-en-Provence, France), Program and Abstracts, p 56Google Scholar
  21. Hellman S (2007) Validating and testing the Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm in southern Sweden—towards quantitative reconstruction of past vegetation. Linnaeus University, KalmarGoogle Scholar
  22. Hellman SEV, Gaillard M-J, Broström A, Sugita S (2008) Effects of the sampling design and selection of parameter values on pollen-based quantitative reconstructions of regional vegetation: a case study in southern Sweden using the REVEALS model. Veget Hist Archaeobot 17:445–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hjelle KL, Halvorsen LS, Prøsch-Danielsen L et al (2018) Long-term changes in regional vegetation cover along the west coast of southern Norway: the importance of human impact. J Veget Sci 29:404–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hultberg T, Lagerås P, Björkman L et al (2017) The late-Holocene decline of Tilia in relation to climate and human activities—pollen evidence from 42 sites in southern Sweden. J Biogeogr 44:2,398–2,409. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lagerås P (2009) Bilaga 8: Resultat av pollenanalys och makrofossilanalys från Brunnshög. Riksantikvarieämbetet, Avdelningen för arkeologiska undersökningar, DAFF 2019:2Google Scholar
  26. Lagerås P (2013) Den agrara ekonomin och växtutnyttjandet i Örja – analyser av växtmakrofossil och pollen. In: Schmidt Sabo K (ed) Örja 1:9. Riksantikvarieämbetet UV Rapport 2013:68. Riksantikvarieämbetet, Lund, pp 207–226Google Scholar
  27. Lagerås P (2014) Grophus med mera från yngre järnålder i sydvästra Skåne - resultat av makrofossilanalys och pollenanalys. In: Söderberg B (ed) Väg E6 Trelleborg-Vellinge: Område 6:1. Riksantikvarieämbetet UV Rapport 2014:57Google Scholar
  28. Lagerås P (ed) (2016) Environment, society and the Black Death—an interdisciplinary approach to the late-medieval crisis in Sweden. Oxbow Books, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  29. Lagerås P (2018) Pollenanalys. In: Söderberg B (ed) Stanstorp 5:1 och 6:1 – boplats och offerplats från yngre järnålder. Statens historiska museer, Arkeologerna Rapport 2018:137. Arkeologerna, Statens historiska museer, Stockholm, pp 163–165Google Scholar
  30. Lagerås P, Magnell O (2017) Arkeobotanisk och osteologisk analys. In: Bolander A (ed) Östra Grevie 9:30 och 12:14, där backe möter slätt – mellan mosse och lund. Statens historiska museer, Arkeologerna Rapport 2017:18. Arkeologerna, Statens historiska museer, Stockholm, pp 69–86Google Scholar
  31. Lagerås P, Magnell O (2019) Arkeobotanisk och osteologisk analys – agrara verksamheter och försörjningsbas. In: Lindberg S, Schmidt Sabo K (eds) Bytomt och boplats i Fjelie inför ombyggnad av väg E6.02. Statens historiska museer, Arkeologerna Rapport 2019:10. Arkeologerna, Statens historiska museer, Stockholm, pp 153–202Google Scholar
  32. Lagerås P, Broström A, Fredh D et al (2016) Abandonment, agricultural change and ecology. In: Lagerås P (ed) Environment, society and the Black Death—an interdisciplinary approach to the late-medieval crisis in Sweden. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp 30–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Larsson M (2015) Agrarian plant economy at Uppåkra and the surrounding area: archaeobotanical studies of an Iron Age regional center. Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Series in 4° 33. Lund University, LundGoogle Scholar
  34. Larsson M, Lagerås P (2014) Rapport avseende paleoekologisk analys. In: Carlie A, Lagergren A (eds) Lindängelund 1—bilagor. Riksantikvarieämbetet UV Rapport 2014:36. Riksantikvarieämbetet, Lund, pp 166–187Google Scholar
  35. Larsson M, Lagerås P (2015) New evidence on the introduction, cultivation and processing of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in southern Sweden. Environ Archaeol 20:111–119. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lindahl Jensen B, Lagerås P, Regnell M (1995) A deposition of bark vessels, flax and opium poppy from 2500 bp in Sallerup, southern Sweden. Pact 50:305–318Google Scholar
  37. Lindbladh M, Foster DR (2010) Dynamics of long-lived foundation species: the history of Quercus in southern Scandinavia. J Ecol 98:1,330–1,345. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lindbladh M, Brunet J, Hannon G et al (2007) Forest history as a basis for ecosystem restoration—a multidisciplinary case study in a South Swedish temperate landscape. Restor Ecol 15:284–295. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lindbladh M, Niklasson M, Karlsson M, Björkman L, Churski M (2008) Close anthropogenic control of Fagus sylvatica establishment and expansion in a Swedish protected landscape—implications for forest history and conservation. J Biogeogr 35:682–697. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mazier F, Broström A, Bragée P et al (2015) Two hundred years of land-use change in the South Swedish Uplands: comparison of historical map-based estimates with pollen-based reconstruction using the landscape reconstruction algorithm. Veget Hist Archaeobot 24:555–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Myrdal J (1982) Jordbruksredskap av järn före år 1000. Fornvännen 77:81–104Google Scholar
  42. Nielsen AB (2004) Modelling pollen sedimentation in Danish lakes at c. ad 1800: an attempt to validate the POLLSCAPE model. J Biogeogr 31:1,693–1,709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nielsen AB, Odgaard BV (2010) Quantitative landscape dynamics in Denmark through the last three millennia based on the Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm approach. Veget Hist Archaeobot 19:375–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nielsen AB, Giesecke T, Teuerkauf M et al (2012) Quantitative reconstructions of changes in regional openness in north-central Europe reveal new insights into old questions. Quat Sci Rev 47:131–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nilsson L (2006) Djur och människor längs vägen. Öresundsförbindelsen och arkeologin. Malmöfynd 9. Malmö Kulturmiljö, MalmöGoogle Scholar
  46. Ranheden H (2014) Paleokologiska analyser från Lindängelund 4. In: Strömberg B, Carlie A, Lagergren A, Schmidt Sabo K (eds) Lockarp 24:1, 42:1 och 43:1. Riksantikvarieämbetet UV Rapport 2014:83Google Scholar
  47. Redman CL (1999) Human impact on ancient environments. The University of Arizona Press, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  48. Regnell M, Sjögren K-G (2006) Introduction and development of agriculture. In: Sjögren K-G (ed) Ecology and economy in Stone Age Scania. National Heritage Board, Stockholm, pp 106–169Google Scholar
  49. Reimer PJ, Baillie MGL, Bard E et al (2004) IntCal04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0-26 cal kyr bp. Radiocarbon 46:1,029–1,058CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ringberg B (1976) Description to Quaternary map Malmö NV. Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning. Serie Ae 27. UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  51. Ringberg B (1980) Description to Quaternary map Malmö SO. Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning. Serie Ae 38. UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  52. Ringberg B (1987) Description to Quaternary map Malmö NO. Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning. Serie Ae 85. UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  53. Rühl L, Stobbe A (2018) Bronze Age wells in the Transurals (Russia) as multi-record archives—a combined study of pollen, plant macro-remains and micromorphology. In: 24th EAA annual meeting, abstract book 1. European Association of Archaeologists, Barcelona, p 293Google Scholar
  54. Schmidt Sabo K, Söderberg B (2019) Byns vara eller icke vara, är det frågan? By och bebyggelse i sydvästra Skåne 400–1800 e. Kr. In Situ 13:5–54Google Scholar
  55. Sigl M, Winstrup M, McConnell JR et al (2015) Timing and climate forcing of volcanic eruptions for the past 2,500 years. Nature 523:543–549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sköld E, Lagerås P, Berglund BE (2010) Temporal cultural landscape dynamics in a marginal upland area: agricultural expansions and contractions inferred from palynological evidence at Yttra Berg, southern Sweden. Veget Hist Archaeobot 19:121–136. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sørensen L, Karg S (2014) The expansion of agrarian societies towards the north—new evidence for agriculture during the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition in Southern Scandinavia. J Archaeol Sci 51:98–114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stobbe A, Röpke A, Rasbach G (2018) A Roman well in Waldgirmes (Hesse, Germany)—palynological and micromorphological analyses. In: 24th EAA annual meeting, abstract book 1. European Association of Archaeologists, Barcelona, p 291Google Scholar
  59. Sugita S (1993) A model of pollen source area for an entire lake surface. Quat Res 39:239–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sugita S (2007) Theory of quantitative reconstruction of vegetation I: pollen from large sites REVEALS regional vegetation composition. Holocene 17:229–241. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sugita S, Gaillard M-J, Broström A (1999) Landscape openness and pollen records: a simulation approach. Holocene 9:409–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sugita S, Parshall T, Calcote R, Walker K (2010) Testing the landscape reconstruction algorithm for spatially explicit reconstruction of vegetation in northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Quat Res 74:289–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tesch S (1991) Tradition and change during the Bronze Age and Iron Age: houses as archaeological sources for the study of changes in the cultural landscape. In: Berglund BE (ed) The cultural landscape during 6000 years in southern Sweden—the Ystad Project. Ecological Bulletins 41. Munksgaard International, Copenhagen, pp 326–336Google Scholar
  64. Tolksdorf JF, Schmalfuß G, Herbig C, Köster H, Turner F, Stäuble H (2017) End Neolithic water management in central Germany based on geoarchaeological and palaeobotanical analyses of wells at the Roitzschjora site, northern Saxony. J Neolit Archaeol 19:127–140. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Trondman A-K, Gaillard M-J, Sugita S et al (2016) Are pollen records from small sites appropriate for REVEALS model-based quantitative reconstructions of past regional vegetation? An empirical test in southern Sweden. Veget Hist Archaeobot 25:131–151. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Vuorela I, Lempiäinen T (1993) Palynological and palaeobotanical investigations in the area of the post-medieval Helsinki Old Town. Veget Hist Archaebot 2:101–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Historical MuseumsLundSweden
  2. 2.Museum of ArchaeologyUniversity of StavangerStavangerNorway

Personalised recommendations