Fine resolution pollen analysis of late Flandrian II peat at North Gill, North York moors
Pollen and charcoal percentage and concentration analyses have been conducted upon several upland peat profiles of late Flandrian II and early Flandrian III age at North Gill, North York Moors, where earlier research had proven recurrent major pre Elm Decline woodland disturbance, supported in one profile by radiocarbon dating. Fine temporal resolution pollen analysis (FRPA) involving the use of contiguous millimetre sampling was applied to Flandrian II disturbance phases at five of the North Gill profiles. At North Gill 1A a further phase of disturbance near the end of Flandrian II was examined using FRPA to study evidence of pre Elm Decline agricultural activity, and at this profile both the horizontal and vertical resolution limits of the technique were tested by progressively finer sub-sampling. The millimetre level FRPA analyses showed that each of the examined pre Elm Decline disturbance phases was an aggregate feature, composed of a number of smaller sub-phases, the ecological effects of which in terms of spatially-precise woodland successions and community structures were assessed and contrasted. Inter-profile spatial comparison of the ecology of woodland disturbances has been made at both FRPA and conventional scales of temporal resolution. FRPA study of the late Flandrian II disturbance phase at North Gill 1A showed that cereal cultivation had occurred prior to the Elm Decline as part of a multi-phase period of agricultural land-use activity. The high resolution spatial and temporal data from North Gill have shown FRPA to be a most sensitive palaeoecological technique, and are discussed in relation to the effects of disturbance upon mire and woodland ecosystems, Mesolithic land-use, pre Elm Decline cereal cultivation and early Neolithic land-use.