Coombes, Paul M.V., Chiverrell, Richard C. and Barber, Keith E.
A high-resolution pollen and geochemical analysis of late Holocene human impact and vegetation history in southern Cumbria, England.
Journal of Quaternary Science, 24, . (doi:10.1002/jqs.1219).
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The historic era, which in Cumbria begins with the Roman invasion of AD 71, is a frequently neglected period in palaeoecological research, but its study can bring benefits in improving knowledge of landscape history and in understanding the significance and limitations of palaeoecological records. Pollen and geochemical data are presented for late Holocene records from Deer Dyke and Hulleter Mosses in southern Cumbria. The records show initially low levels of anthropogenic impact, followed by a phase of forest clearance and mixed agriculture from the 7th to 11th centuries AD. The timing of these clearances suggests that they were initially Anglo-Saxon in origin, rather than Norse. Further clearances in the 16th century AD are interpreted as a response to monastic dissolution and late Tudor population pressures; the landscapes reached their contemporary form following extensive clearances in the 17th century AD. Silicon and titanium concentrations at Deer Dyke Moss were used to reconstruct past levels of atmospheric dust loading, which is broadly related to soil erosion. Geochemical influx was found to peak during periods of landscape transition rather than from established land use. This relationship with pollen data is thought to reflect the predominantly low levels of anthropogenic impact in the region, which changes as substantial woodland clearances during the 16th century AD and continuous land use pressure since then have greatly increased the supply of airborne dust.
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