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Title: The occupation of wetland landscapes during the British Mesolithic : case studies from the Vale of Pickering
Author: Taylor, Barry
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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The Lake Flixton basin is one of the most important Mesolithic landscapes in Europe. From the start of the period groups of hunter-gatherers began to occupy sites around the shores of a large shallow lake, the palaeo-lake Flixton, which had formed in an area of low-lying ground at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering. Throughout the time the area was inhabited the lake gradually infilled, allowing environments of swamp, fen and carr to expand across it. At the same time peat forming wetlands began to form over areas of previously dry ground, slowly burying the remains of hunter-gatherer sites and preserving a detailed record of the environments within which people were living. Since the 1940s, extensive programmes of archaeological and palaeo-environmental research have created a wealth of data, relating to both the human inhabitation of this landscape and the changing character of the lake and the associated wetland environments. But whilst analysis of the archaeological material has made a number of important contributions to the study of the Mesolithic the nature of people’s engagement with the wetlands remained poorly understood. It is this issue that this thesis has sought to address. Targeted programmes of archaeological and palaeo-environmental analysis have been undertaken at three locations around the basin. In each case this work has established the nature of the wetlands that formed in these areas as well as the specific environmental context from which evidence for human activity has been recorded. From this, the forms of activity that were undertaken within the wetlands has been discussed, both in relation to the specific case studies and in terms of the wider landscape. The palaeoenvironmental analysis has also been used to refine our understanding of the timing and nature of environmental change within the basin, allowing a broader discussion of the human occupation of the landscape. Finally, the nature of activity on the adjacent dryland has been investigated through new excavations at one of these sites. This recorded a stratified sequence of features, focused around a large pit, that had been re-used during subsequent visits to the site, possibly forming part of a small structure. Taken together, the results of this work have demonstrated the dynamic nature of people’s relationship with wetlands. At individual sites, tasks were undertaken within a range of different environments, the character of which often changed during the time the area was inhabited. Across the landscape, patterns of activity varied spatially and temporally as people engaged with the diverse and changing nature of these environments.
Supervisor: Hind, Melanie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mesolithic ; Archaeology