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The vegetational and archaeological history of the Ingleborough Massif, North Yorkshire

By Susan Swales


The Flandrian vegetational and archaeological history\ud of the Ingleborough Massif was investigated using pollen\ud and macrofossil analysis of peat deposits in conjunction\ud with radiocarbon dating.\ud \ud A transect was taken across the massif, running northwest\ud to south-east, and peat deposits were sampled at\ud intervals, as close to the transect as possible. This was\ud to give a range of altitude and peat types, as well as\ud sites both near to and far from limestone and known\ud archaeological remains.\ud \ud Pollen influx (produced by means of an exotic marker\ud grain method) and percentage pollen diagrams were produced\ud for five peat profiles while percentage diagrams only were\ud produced for a further six.\ud \ud The earliest peat formed in the Arks corrie\ud c. 9240 t 100 BP and revealed an open countryside with\ud some birch and juniper bushes. Corylus migrated into the\ud area and formed a major component the vegetation near\ud the Arks C. 8730 - 80 BP. After the arrival of Quercus\ud and Ulmus trees, Alnus appeared in the area c. 80 BP\ud but did not reach high numbers until 6400 ± 70 BP.\ud \ud Some evidence of possible early Mesolithic activity\ud during this period was found. Small-scale and short-lived\ud clearance of the mixed-oak woodland began c. 5700 BP, due\ud to the activities of either Late Mesolithic or Early\ud Neolithic peoples. A distinctive and long-term clearance\ud phase (lasting c. 500-700 years) took place in the Early\ud Neolithic Period, characterised by high percentages of\ud Rumex acetosa/acetosella type pollen with smaller percentages of other ruderal pollen types and occasional cereal grains. The evidence points to both pastoral and arable farming being practised on the well-drained Carboniferous Limestone soils.\ud \ud After a short tree recovery, widespread clearance was\ud renewed on the massif in the Early Bronze Age, with Plantago\ud lanceolata and Pteridium the most abundant indicator grains.\ud Extensive areas of the massif were covered by spreading\ud blanket bog in this period.\ud \ud All peat profiles have been truncated, three end with\ud the Late Bronze Age; the others continue until the Iron\ud Age on end of the Romano-British Period, at which time the\ud massif was almost cleared of woodland. Regrowth occurred\ud at the beginning of the Norman Period, at least at one\ud site. Severe erosion has taken place over the whole of\ud the massif. There is evidence at the Arks site of a "bogburst" or "gill-brack" having taken place

Publisher: Faculty of Biological Sciences (Leeds)
Year: 1987
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:1246

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