The vegetational and archaeological history of Rombalds Moor, West Yorkshire
The archaeology of Rombalds Moor, West Yorkshire, is reviewed and discussed. Vegetational information is provided by thirteen pollen diagrams (nine percentage diagrams and four influx diagrams) for seven sites on the moor. At the end of the Late-Devensian period Rombalds Moor was aspecies-rich grassland. Following the Post-glacial warming of the climate-there was a succession of trees arriving in the area, but true woodland was not established until c.8800 years BP. Dates are proposed for two early Mesolithic forest burnings, and late Mesolithic disturbance has been noted, particularly at the Alnus rise. The morphology of the Alnus rise differs in diagrams from different parts of the moor. Differences in diagrams from the same site, together with radiocarbon dating evidence, points to the presence of one or more hiatuses in the late Boreal/early Atlantic. At this site there is evidence that Pinus persisted long after the Alnus rise. There was a small amount of clearance, but no agriculture, in the Neolithic period. In the Bronze Age there was more extensive clearance, some pastoralism, and a limited amount of cereal cultivation in the east of the moor. Pollen analysis of a buried soil provides evidence that a supposed 'Bronze Age' cairn represents a burial, but the radiocarbon date is Iron Age. Major deforestation took place in the Iron Age when the population moved from the higher land into the valleys and there were significant increases in both pastoral and arable farming. Cultivation stopped and woodland regrew in some areas towards the end of the Roman period. There is evidence that removal of the woodland cover led to soil degeneration on the higher parts of the moor which prevented later regrowth of woodland. In the late 13th and early 14th centuries remaining woodland was cleared and agriculture increased, particularly pastoralism. Recent changes involve the decline of heather as a result of overgrazing.