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    Multi-proxy evidence for woodland clearance in northeast Northumberland (England) during the Iron Age

    van Asperen, Eline N. and Kirby, Jason R. and Shaw, Helen E. (2023) Multi-proxy evidence for woodland clearance in northeast Northumberland (England) during the Iron Age. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. ISSN 1617-6278

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    Pollen diagrams covering the Bronze Age to Roman period from northeast Northumberland are scarce. We present a 14C-dated pollen record from a peat-filled forest hollow in Chillingham Wild Cattle Park, northeast Northumberland, that spans the Iron Age. For the first time for this part of Northumberland, fungal spores are also analysed to investigate whether clearances took place in the context of crop cultivation or pastoralism. The pollen diagram shows significant woodland cover during the Late Bronze Age, with small-scale landscape openness potentially representing crop cultivation and animal grazing under a tree canopy. A local clearance event, with arboreal pollen falling to 13.2%, is radiocarbon dated to the late Early to Middle Iron Age, likely coinciding with the construction and occupancy of the nearby Ros Castle hillfort. A significant rise in dung fungal spores and the presence of Plantago and other open vegetation taxa indicate animal husbandry played an important role in this clearance phase. A subsequent large decrease in dung fungi and a small rise in arboreal pollen may reflect a degree of abandonment of the area after the climate cooled. Peat formation ceased in the late Middle to Late Iron Age as the hollow filled up. Limited renewed peat growth occurred in the last century or so, after peat shrinkage due to drying and consequent oxidation provided the possibility for renewed peat formation within the hollow.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Pollen analysis; Dung fungal spores; Northumberland; Iron Age; Clearance; Agriculture;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, ICARUS
    Item ID: 18079
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Helen Shaw
    Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2024 15:32
    Journal or Publication Title: Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
    Publisher: Springer
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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