Formation and land-use history of Celtic fields in north-west Europe - an interdisciplinary case study at Zeijen, the Netherlands

T. Spek, W. Groenman-van Waateringe, M.J. Kooistra, L. Bakker

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademic

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Celtic field research has so far been strongly focused on prospection and mapping. As a result of this there is a serious lack of knowledge of formation and land-use processes of these fields. This article describes a methodological case study in The Netherlands that may be applied to other European Celtic fields in the future. By interdisciplinary use of pedological, palynological and micromorphological research methods the authors were able to discern five development stages in the history of the field, dating from the late Bronze Age to the early Roman Period. There are strong indications that the earthen ridges, very typical for Celtic fields in the sandy landscapes of north-west Europe, were only formed in the later stages of Celtic field agriculture (late Iron Age and early Roman period). They were the result of a determined raising of the surface by large-scale transportation of soil material from the surroundings of the fields. Mainly the ridges were intensively cultivated and manured in the later stages of Celtic field cultivation. In the late Iron Age a remarkable shift in Celtic field agriculture took place from an extensive system with long fallow periods, a low level of manuring and extensive soil tillage to a more intensive system with shorter fallow periods, a more intensive soil tillage and a higher manuring intensity. There are also strong indications that rye (Secale cereale) was the main crop in the final stage of Celtic field agriculture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-173
JournalEuropean Journal of Archaeology
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • land use
  • history
  • prehistory
  • remains
  • drenthe

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