Brown, Anthony G.
Colluvial and alluvial response to land use change in Midland England: an integrated geoarchaeological approach. [In special issue: Climate and long-term human impact on sediment fluxes in watershed systems]
Geomorphology, 108, (1-2), . (doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.12.021).
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This paper presents geomorphic, soils and palaeoecological data from a small sub-catchment in the English Midlands in an attempt to provide an integrated picture of Holocene landscape change. The area used has also been the focus of a multi-disciplinary and long-term archaeological survey (Raunds Area Project) and so has a wealth of archaeological and historical data which can be related to the environmental record. The paper combines these data, much of which are only published in the archaeological literature with new interpretations based upon unpublished data and new data particularly from the hillslopes and new radiocarbon dating from the valley floor. It is inferred that despite a long history of pastoral and arable agriculture (since the Neolithic/Bronze Age), colluviation on lower slopes, significant soil redistribution and overbank alluviation only began to a measurable extent in the Late Saxon–Medieval period (9th Century AD onwards). It is suggested that this is due to a combination of land-use factors, principally the laying out of an intensive open field system and the establishment of villages combined with a period of extremes in climate well known throughout Europe. Indeed the critical element appears to have been the social changes in this period that created this regionally distinctive landscape which happened to have a high spatial connectivity and facilitated intensive arable production with high tillage rates. Intense rainfall events during this period could therefore detach and mobilize high volumes of soil and the open field system facilitated transport to slope bases and valley floors. The need for detailed and spatially precise land-use data in order to interpret accelerated landscape change is stressed.
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