Vegetation, landscape and human activity in Midland Ireland: mire and lake records from the Lough Kinale-Derragh Lough area, Central Ireland


Brown, Anthony G., Hatton, Jackie, O'Brian, Charlotte E., Selby, Katherine A., Langdon, Peter G., Stuijts, Ingelisa and Caseldine, Christopher J. (2005) Vegetation, landscape and human activity in Midland Ireland: mire and lake records from the Lough Kinale-Derragh Lough area, Central Ireland. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 14, (2), 81-98. (doi:10.1007/s00334-005-0063-1).

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Description/Abstract

A high-resolution pollen record for the Holocene has been obtained from Derragh Bog, a small raised mire located on a peninsula in Lough Kinale-Derragh Lough, in Central Ireland as part of the Discovery Programme (Ireland) Lake Settlements Project. The data are compared with two lower resolution diagrams, one obtained from Derragh Lough and one from adjacent to a crannog in Lough Kinale. The general trends of vegetation change are similar and indicate that landscape-scale clearance did not occur until the Medieval period (ca. a.d. 800–900). There are, however, significant differences between the diagrams due primarily to core location and taphonomy, including pollen source area. Only the pollen profile from Derragh Bog reveals an unusually well represented multi-phase primary decline in Ulmus ca. 3500–3100 b.c. (4800–475014C b.p.) which is associated with the first arable farming in the area. The pollen diagram indicates a rapid, and almost complete, clearance of a stand of Ulmus with some Quercus on the Derragh peninsula, arable cultivation in the clearing and then abandonment by mobile/shifting late Neolithic farmers. Subsequently there are a number of clearance phases which allow the colonisation of the area by Fraxinus and are probably associated with pastoral activity. The pollen sequence from adjacent to a crannog in Lough Kinale shows clear evidence of the construction and use of the crannog for the storage of crops (Hordeum and Avena) whereas the Derragh Bog diagram and the diagram from Derragh Lough reflect the growth of the mire. This study reveals that in this landscape the record from a small mire shows changes in prehistoric vegetation caused by human agriculture that are not detectable in the lake sequences. Although in part this is due to the higher temporal resolution and more consistent and complete chronology for the mire, the most important factor is the closer proximity of the raised mire sequence to the dry land. However, the pollen sequence from adjacent to a crannog does provide detailed evidence of the construction and function of the site. It is concluded that in order to ascertain a complete picture of vegetation changes in a lowland shallow lake-dominated landscape, cores from both the lake and surrounding small mires should be analysed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: One of the first papers to use multiple proxies from multiple cores in a shallow lake system to reconstruct surrounding landuse history. The comparison of a raised bog, with remarkable detail of the elm decline, with surrounding lake cores is novel. Brown wrote the paper and co-directed the project.
ISSNs: 0939-6314 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: pollen, raised mire, lake sediments, ulmus decline, crannog, deforestation
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QK Botany
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Geography > Environmental Processes and Change
ePrint ID: 46751
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2007
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:30
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/46751

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