Drowning landscapes revisited. Correlating peatland expansion, human habitation trends and vegetation dynamics in the Northwest European mainland

Roy van Beek*, Cindy Quik, Marjolein van der Linden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In the course of the Holocene large parts of the Northwest European mainland became overgrown with peat, only a fraction of which has survived to the present day. The diachronic relations between peatland expansion, human habitation trends and vegetation dynamics are poorly understood. Gaining detailed insights in the interrelations between these processes is essential to enhance interpretations of archaeological data on different spatial and temporal scales and to inform cultural heritage management and nature conservation and restoration. To achieve this goal it is key to develop interdisciplinary research designs in which the timing, pace and character of the relevant processes are analysed integrally. In this paper we present a study of the northern Dutch Fochteloërveen area, which is one of the largest and best preserved bog remnants of the Northwest European mainland. We integrate a recently published model on peatland initiation and lateral expansion with an inventory of extant archaeological data and new high-resolution palaeobotanical analyses (plant macro remains and pollen), which produces insights into the dynamic landscape history of this ‘drowning’ area in hitherto unparalleled detail. Two characteristic phases in the landscape history of the study area (the Late Mesolithic and Middle Roman period) are visualised by means of evidence-based artist impressions. The methodology and results of the study offer inspiration and important material for comparison for similar landscapes across the Northwest European mainland.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108170
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume312
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • Holocene
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Palaeogeography
  • Peatlands
  • Vegetation dynamics
  • Western europe

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