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Vegetational change and human activity in the Exe Valley, Devon, UK

Vegetational change and human activity in the Exe Valley, Devon, UK
Vegetational change and human activity in the Exe Valley, Devon, UK
This paper presents the results of the first investigation of vegetation change and human activity from a river valley west of the Somerset Levels. The record is contrasted with the pollen and archaeological record from South West uplands (Dartmoor and Exmoor) and the Somerset Levels. Vegetation change and archaeological evidence are shown to be generally consistent, with evidence from the middle valley of Mesolithic vegetation disturbance (with nearby lithics), Neolithic clearance of terraces and slopes in the lower valley and Neolithic-Bronze Age ceremonial and domestic activity, but in the upper reach the maintenance of wooded valley floor conditions probably with management until historic times. The valley floor and surrounding slope vegetation history is found to be significantly different to that of the uplands with lime and elm being significant components of the prehistoric woodland record. The data suggest that lime is restricted to terraces and lowlands below 200 metres OD throughout the prehistoric period. The pollen data from the valley suggests the lowlands had a rich and mixed ecology providing a wide range of resources and that, despite less visible archaeological remains, human activity is manifest through palynological evidence from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age. The largest expanse of valley-floor terrace, the Nether Exe Basin, which was at least partially deforested in the early Neolithic contains a rich assemblage of Neolithic-Bronze Age ceremonial, funerary and domestic archaeology associated with an early and clear palynological record of woodland clearance, arable and pastoral activity.
0079-497X
161-181
Fyfe, R.M.
41b3d503-5c27-4698-abc5-4099cdf45ff5
Brown, A.G.
c51f9d3e-02b0-47da-a483-41c354e78fab
Coles, B. J.
2b3c87b8-cd06-4883-ad61-a4a2bec273b2
Fyfe, R.M.
41b3d503-5c27-4698-abc5-4099cdf45ff5
Brown, A.G.
c51f9d3e-02b0-47da-a483-41c354e78fab
Coles, B. J.
2b3c87b8-cd06-4883-ad61-a4a2bec273b2

Fyfe, R.M., Brown, A.G. and Coles, B. J. (2003) Vegetational change and human activity in the Exe Valley, Devon, UK. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 69, 161-181.

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper presents the results of the first investigation of vegetation change and human activity from a river valley west of the Somerset Levels. The record is contrasted with the pollen and archaeological record from South West uplands (Dartmoor and Exmoor) and the Somerset Levels. Vegetation change and archaeological evidence are shown to be generally consistent, with evidence from the middle valley of Mesolithic vegetation disturbance (with nearby lithics), Neolithic clearance of terraces and slopes in the lower valley and Neolithic-Bronze Age ceremonial and domestic activity, but in the upper reach the maintenance of wooded valley floor conditions probably with management until historic times. The valley floor and surrounding slope vegetation history is found to be significantly different to that of the uplands with lime and elm being significant components of the prehistoric woodland record. The data suggest that lime is restricted to terraces and lowlands below 200 metres OD throughout the prehistoric period. The pollen data from the valley suggests the lowlands had a rich and mixed ecology providing a wide range of resources and that, despite less visible archaeological remains, human activity is manifest through palynological evidence from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age. The largest expanse of valley-floor terrace, the Nether Exe Basin, which was at least partially deforested in the early Neolithic contains a rich assemblage of Neolithic-Bronze Age ceremonial, funerary and domestic archaeology associated with an early and clear palynological record of woodland clearance, arable and pastoral activity.

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More information

Published date: 2003

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 55229
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/55229
ISSN: 0079-497X
PURE UUID: 48647e44-c82a-4f1f-a7c1-66299bbcbe70
ORCID for A.G. Brown: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1990-4654

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Date deposited: 01 Aug 2008
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:41

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Contributors

Author: R.M. Fyfe
Author: A.G. Brown ORCID iD
Author: B. J. Coles

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