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Title: Chemical analyses of buried soils from experimental earthworks and their application to archaeological case studies
Author: Poole, Amy
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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The aim of this research was to develop a better understanding of buried soils using experimental sites as analogues of prehistoric and early historic buried soil s. Three experimental earthworks were investigated; a 16 year old buried soil beneath Butser Ancient Farm Octagonal Earthwork, Hampshire built on Middle Chalk and previously cultivated, a 22 year old buried soil beneath Fishbourne Octagonal Earthwork, Sussex built on Aeolian drift over Pleistocene gravels and the 17 year old buried soil beneath the enclosure bank surrounding the 'Celtic Village' at the National Museum of Wales at St Fagans, near Cardiff. Three archaeological case studies were investigated; two henge monuments in Scotland, Broomend of Crichie, Aberdeenshire and Pullyhour, Caithness; and one site on chalk; Mound VII of the Bartlow Barrow Complex, Cambridgeshire. The buried soils were investigated using pH, organic matter content, calcium carbonate content and particle size. This was complemented by multi-clement analysis by ICP-OES and thin section micromorphology. Analytical data was compared and combines with evidence from excavation and historical maps to create retrogressive landscape histories. Key questions related to evidence for pre-burial activity and land use and to post burial changes. The buried soils at the experimental sites exhibited alterations in structure and loss of organic matter after only 16-22 years, exhibiting structures similar to archaeologically buried soils in thin section; this implies early rapid change leading to semi-equilibrium a decade or two after burial, and is consistent with results found in the Experimental Earthwork Project. Tentative interpretations for earlier cultivation phases at Fishboume and St Fagans based on artefact and historical evidence could not be supported by analytical data, highlighting the need for caution in identifying cultivation, as the evidence indicates that faunal reworking, mixing and other processes of pedogenesis could mask evidence in a soil if it is not buried soon after cultivation. Data and interpretations from the experimental sites were applied to the interpretations of the archaeological case studies to generate new hypotheses. A model was created for the application of interpretations of experimental buried soils to archaeological investigations
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available