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Title: Recent human impact and land use change in Britain and Ireland : a pollen analytical and geochemical study
Author: Morriss, Sarah Helen
ISNI:       0000 0001 3425 8112
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2001
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A number of analytical techniques have been applied to four peat profiles from three ombrotrophic mires: Abbeyknockmoy (Co. Galway, Ireland), Shaw Moss (Southwest Cumbria) and Tregaron (Southeast and West Bogs, Ceredigion, Wales); and three profiles from two lake deposits; Lake Gormire (Yorkshire) and Talkin Tarn (north Cumbria). Pollen analysis is used as the principal method of vegetation reconstruction at all sites, while Silicon and Titanium analyses were also undertaken at Abbeyknockmoy, Shaw Moss and Tregaron Southeast Bog. These geochemical profiles provide additional proxy records for the intensity and timing of anthropogenic activity. The chronology of each site is based on Pinus pollen data and AMS radiocarbon dates, with the exception of Lake Gormire where ²¹⁰Pb dating is used. The presence of an historic tephra isochrone at Abbeyknockmoy allows direct comparison with the documentary record and can be used to constrain the radiocarbon chronology of this profile. The original aim of the project was to reconstruct the land use history around each of the study sites for the last 1,000 years, with special reference to monastic influences. The results indicate, however, that some profiles date from either the prehistoric or Roman periods. While this was originally beyond the scope of this research, such profiles offer insights into the debates concerning the extent of Iron Age activity prior to the Roman invasion and the fate of agricultural activity after Roman withdrawal in c. 400 AD. The results indicate varying degrees of Iron Age farming activity at Tregaron Southeast Bog, Shaw Moss and Talkin Tarn. Agriculture increased around the Southeast Bog during the period of Roman occupation, although the centuries immediately following Roman withdrawal are characterised by a phase of woodland regeneration and declining activity at the Southeast and West Bogs. Evidence from Talkin Tarn, however, suggests that continuation of farming after the end of Roman Rule. The records from Abbeyknockmoy and the Southeast and West Bogs indicate that the establishment of local Cistercian monasteries in the 12th century AD had a significant impact on the landscape, while evidence from Abbeyknockmoy and Lake Gormire suggest that the Dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century AD did not result in widespread land abandonment and woodland regeneration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Palaeoecology; Peat; Farming activity; Landscape