Mid to late Holocene vegetation and land use history change in the Weald of south-eastern England: multiple pollen profiles from the Rye area

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Abstract

The High Weald is an unusually well-wooded area in southern England. A high proportion of this woodland is ancient, being formerly exploited as seasonal pasture and coppice. Multiple pollen profiles from the Rye area have been used to elucidate the origins of this cultural landscape. By combining sites with small and large pollen source areas, both local and regional patterns of vegetation change have been determined. The mid-Holocene Tilia-dominated woodlands were subjected to temporary clearance as early as the Neolithic. This woodland was more extensively exploited over a ca. 700 year period from the beginning of the Bronze Age. The main elements of the modern landscape (woodland, pasture and limited cultivation) can be traced back to a more intensive phase of human activity, which commenced in the late Bronze Age. A regional increase in Fagus sylvatica pollen ca. 750 B. C. probably reflects the use of the Wealden woods for pasturage. There is no palynological evidence that the fuel demands of the Roman iron industry resulted in widespread woodland destruction. The early Anglo-Saxon period appears to have been one of land- use continuity, with a second increase in Fagus pollen at ca. A. D. 700 corresponding to historical evidence for the presence of wood-pastures in the Weald.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-384
Number of pages18
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Volume16
Issue number5
Early online date28 Mar 2006
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007

Keywords

  • pollen analysis
  • human activity
  • Woodland management
  • Fagus sylvatica
  • radiocarbon age calibration
  • southeastern England
  • Fagus-sylvatica
  • central-Europe
  • fen carr
  • Sweden
  • program
  • forest
  • peat
  • representation

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