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Pollen analysis of peat deposits near Edlingham, Northumberland

Moyle, David William (1980) Pollen analysis of peat deposits near Edlingham, Northumberland. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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The clearance history of vegetation in Northumberland has been subject to very limited research. The present study is principally concerned with the impact of man on vegetational development in the vicinity of Edlingham in central-eastern Northumberland, The area has a diverse physical environment including both arable lowlands and heath covered sandstone uplandss Archaeological evidence indicates the likelihood of continuous human settlement since Mesolithic times. Two peat deposits of contrasting size and pollen catchment were surveyed and sampled for pollen study purposes. A small lowland mire adjacent to Edlingham Castle provided a limited record of post»clearance vegetational history estimated to date from the 17(^th) century. The second site at Black Lough consists of a large body of peat contained within a depression in the underlying glacial drift located on the interfluve of a Fell Sandstone ridge overlooking Edlingham, A 7 metre core from this site produced a continuous pollen and stratigraphic record extending from the Late Devensian to the present. Twelve pollen assemblage zones (BL I - BL XII) are identified from the Black Lough core. Comparison of these zones with the Flandrian Chronozones established at Din Moss (Hibbert and Switsur 1976) demonstrates a close correlation. On this basis a time scale has been placed on the major vegetational changes occurring in the Black Lough pollen diagram. The impact of man on the vegetation at Black Lough is first detected at the Flandrian I/II transition dated at Din Moss to 6710 ± 100 b.p. Mesolithic activity led to minor openings in the forest cover and possibly contributed to the very sudden decline of Firms pollen recorded at Black Lough, Detailed study of the Flandrian II/III transition challenges the traditional view of the Elm Decline as an isolated event involving the selective decline of elm pollen onlyo An anthropological explanation is supported. Following the decline of elm it would appear that for a period of 2500 years covering the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, occupation was relatively continuous involving progressively more permanent agricultural communities and gradually increasing clearance. The great upsurge of clearance following this period is associated with the pre-Roman Iron Age and appears to provide a clearance sequence of reference value for the region.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Science
Thesis Date:1980
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Jul 2013 10:53

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