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Simulating the nature of vegetation communities at the opening of the Neolithic on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland — the potential role of models of pollen dispersal and deposition

Simulating the nature of vegetation communities at the opening of the Neolithic on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland — the potential role of models of pollen dispersal and deposition
Simulating the nature of vegetation communities at the opening of the Neolithic on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland — the potential role of models of pollen dispersal and deposition
The landscapes of the extreme western fringe of the European seaboard provide significant challenges to the reconstruction of prehistoric landscapes. The landscapes that exist today often bear little resemblance to those that existed in the middle Holocene owing to a combination of climatic and human influences on the landscape, and there are few surviving landscapes which offer an analogous vegetation situation. The coast of Co. Mayo in Ireland provides perhaps one of the biggest challenges in this regard, being now virtually treeless and covered with extensive tracts of ombrotrophic peat. Palaeoecological data sets indicate extensive woodland in the past in these areas, and the archaeological record shows that the region supported Neolithic populations practising early forms of agriculture. Landscape reconstruction using models that relate pollen dispersal to vegetation communities offers a potential stochastic insight into the nature of former landscapes. The results presented here from a modelling approach to reconstructing earlier prehistoric landscapes clearly demonstrate likely spatial vegetation patterning which could produce pollen assemblages comparable to those in the sub-fossil record. Areas such as Achill Island would have had extensive woodland cover dominated by taxa such as pine, oak and elm, a landscape substantially different from that which exists today. It is argued that at the onset of clearance during the Neolithic the area would have been significantly more attractive to agriculture than it is today.
pollen analysis, modelling, ireland, landscape reconstruction, neolithic
0034-6667
135-144
Caseldine, Chris
a3c3bba7-f44e-48c4-9426-9603eee80b42
Fyfe, Ralph
0efffd2b-297e-4867-a585-e7ad6c4468db
Langdon, Catherine
9b12df98-005b-4aa5-a9d9-3aa0b2c7b398
Thompson, Gareth
07c0b115-6567-4f8d-a587-6aba02d06bfe
Caseldine, Chris
a3c3bba7-f44e-48c4-9426-9603eee80b42
Fyfe, Ralph
0efffd2b-297e-4867-a585-e7ad6c4468db
Langdon, Catherine
9b12df98-005b-4aa5-a9d9-3aa0b2c7b398
Thompson, Gareth
07c0b115-6567-4f8d-a587-6aba02d06bfe

Caseldine, Chris, Fyfe, Ralph, Langdon, Catherine and Thompson, Gareth (2007) Simulating the nature of vegetation communities at the opening of the Neolithic on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland — the potential role of models of pollen dispersal and deposition. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 144 (3-4), 135-144. (doi:10.1016/j.revpalbo.2006.07.002).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The landscapes of the extreme western fringe of the European seaboard provide significant challenges to the reconstruction of prehistoric landscapes. The landscapes that exist today often bear little resemblance to those that existed in the middle Holocene owing to a combination of climatic and human influences on the landscape, and there are few surviving landscapes which offer an analogous vegetation situation. The coast of Co. Mayo in Ireland provides perhaps one of the biggest challenges in this regard, being now virtually treeless and covered with extensive tracts of ombrotrophic peat. Palaeoecological data sets indicate extensive woodland in the past in these areas, and the archaeological record shows that the region supported Neolithic populations practising early forms of agriculture. Landscape reconstruction using models that relate pollen dispersal to vegetation communities offers a potential stochastic insight into the nature of former landscapes. The results presented here from a modelling approach to reconstructing earlier prehistoric landscapes clearly demonstrate likely spatial vegetation patterning which could produce pollen assemblages comparable to those in the sub-fossil record. Areas such as Achill Island would have had extensive woodland cover dominated by taxa such as pine, oak and elm, a landscape substantially different from that which exists today. It is argued that at the onset of clearance during the Neolithic the area would have been significantly more attractive to agriculture than it is today.

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More information

Published date: May 2007
Additional Information: An innovative, new approach relating pollen dispersal to vegetation communities is provided in this paper, offering an original insight into the nature of the past landscape of Achill Island. Important methodological and interpretational issues are raised relevant to the whole palynological community. Provided most of the proxy data and results.
Keywords: pollen analysis, modelling, ireland, landscape reconstruction, neolithic

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 46639
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/46639
ISSN: 0034-6667
PURE UUID: cd2dfc6f-4db6-4920-904e-123a7c3d039a

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Date deposited: 13 Jul 2007
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 21:02

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Author: Chris Caseldine
Author: Ralph Fyfe
Author: Catherine Langdon
Author: Gareth Thompson

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