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Durham e-Theses
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Impacts of hunter-gatherers on the vegetation history of the eastern vale of pickering, Yorkshire

Cummins, Gaynor Elizabeth (2003) Impacts of hunter-gatherers on the vegetation history of the eastern vale of pickering, Yorkshire. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Research is undertaken into the vegetation and human impact at three previously un-researched archaeological sites from the eastern Vale of Pickering. The vegetation history is reconstructed from the end of the Windermere Interstadial c. 13,000 (^14)C yr BP until the final Mesolithic c. 5100 (^14)C yr BP. The early Mesolithic human impact on the vegetation is assessed using a three stage statistical test to establish the internal variability in the data as well as background variations in pollen output. The results reveal that humans had a small but significant impact on the vegetation around two of the sites. Pollen preservation at the third site precluded analyses of the impacts of humans on the vegetation. The three-stage test used to test for human impact was quite successful but requires revision before any further use. On the whole the tests confirmed the findings of conventional human impact analyses. During the pre-Holocene fires occurred on a regular basis. These fires varied in location and intensity, suggesting that some of the fires were regional or large-scale, whilst others were small and very localized. A multi-causal explanation has been given for the fires. Later, during the early Mesolithic, human groups are thought to have burnt the reedswamp at the lake edges as part of an economic strategy. Star Carr is the only site that demonstrates clearance of significant areas of woodland. During the later Mesolithic the hunter-gatherers have a greater impact on the vegetation within the Vale. This is attributed to the need for more resources as a result of vegetation change and increased population levels. Unlike their counter-parts from the North York Moors, the occupants of the lowland Vale of Pickering cause no long-term change to their environment.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2003
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Aug 2012 11:34

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