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Durham e-Theses
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Ecological history and the development of peat on the central watershed of the north Yorkshire Moors

Cundill, P. R. (1971) Ecological history and the development of peat on the central watershed of the north Yorkshire Moors. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The peat deposits of a limited area of the North Yorkshire Moors were studied through pollen analysis and associated techniques. The aim of the project was to provide details about the inception of peat growth and man's effect on the vegetation of the area throughout time. Altogether thirteen sites were examined and pollen diagrams constructed from the results. The pollen diagrams gave an outline of the conditions which prevailed on the North Yorkshire Moors from about 6000 years B.P. up to the present day, and showed that the influence of man on the vegetation of the area was very marked. The active removal of woodland by man is seen in three major phases which have been tentatively assigned to the cultural periods of the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Mediaeval. In addition to these three phases, burning of the vegetation appears to have taken place continuously on the upland areas of the moors from the start of peat accumulation. From this it is suggested that man played a part in the formation of the upland peat deposits, although probably only in the role of assisting in the degradation of an already 'poor’ environment. The effects of man, which are so clearly reflected in the pollen diagrams of the present study, appear to rule out the possibility of widespread climatically induced vegetation changes for most of the period under examination. It is concluded that while a great deal of new information on the historical ecology of the area has been revealed a great many gaps in knowledge still remain. However, the study provides for a better understanding of an environment created by man through many thousands of years of mis/use, and this information may assist in the formulation of an appropriate conservation policy for the future.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1971
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Nov 2013 16:16

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