Authors:Ralph Fyfe (University of Plymouth)
Ben Gearey (University of Birmingham)
Dan Charman (University of Exeter)
Paper short abstract:
Our understanding of the development of the southwest uplands has advanced significantly over the last fifteen years. This paper reviews these advances, and considers the role that the palaeoecological record has in augmenting, and in some cases building, the archaeological narratives of the region.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will present a synthesis of palaeoecological (mainly palynological) research that has taken place on the uplands of southwest Britain over the last fifteen years. Successive projects have explored the uplands, from a range of perspectives, and have been able to highlight a range of key advances in the understanding of landscapes both in the region, and beyond. First, we will demonstrate that each upland (Bodmin, Dartmoor and Exmoor) is different: there is no single narrative of upland change for the region. This is exemplified through divergent histories of fire ecology, and the character and tempo of vegetation change driven by human modification. Second, there is considerable spatial diversity in vegetation character in the past within individual uplands. This has resulted in greater awareness of the importance of place within palaeoecology, and demonstrates the power of pollen analysis to develop greater understanding of not only landscape character, but also landscape difference. These findings have considerable significance for deepening our understanding of the character of exploitation of the wider landscape in the past, and provide a more nuanced approach to understanding the ways in which these evocative landscapes developed. We will also consider the contribution of palaeoecological research to the understanding of the archaeological record for the South-West of England, highlighting the synergies that are generated by a critical and synthetic approach to upland landscapes.
Palaeoeconomy and palaeoecology of south west Britain