Detecting the environmental impact of the Baltic Crusades on a late-medieval (13th-15th century) frontier landscape: palynological analysis from Malbork Castle and hinterland, Northern Poland
Brown, A. and Pluskowski, A. (2011) Detecting the environmental impact of the Baltic Crusades on a late-medieval (13th-15th century) frontier landscape: palynological analysis from Malbork Castle and hinterland, Northern Poland. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (8). pp. 1957-1966. ISSN 0305-4403
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.04.010
Palaeoecological analysis of peat deposits from a small bog, combined with pollen analysis of sediments infilling the moat of the nearby Teutonic Order castle at Malbork, have been used to examine the ecological impact of the Crusades on the late-medieval landscape of Northern Poland. Studies of the environmental impact of the Crusades have been almost exclusively informed by written sources; this study is the first of its type to directly investigate the environmental context of Crusading as a force of ecological transformation on the late-medieval Baltic landscape. The pollen evidence from Malbork Castle and its hinterland demonstrate that the 12th/13th–15th centuries coincide with a marked transformation in vegetation and land-use, characterized by clearance of broadleaved woodland and subsequent agricultural intensification, particularly during the 14th/15th centuries. These changes are ascribed to landscape transformations associated with the Teutonic Order’s control of the landscape from the mid-13th century. Human activity identified in the pollen record prior to this is argued to reflect the activities of Pomeranian settlers in the area. This paper also discusses the broader palaeoecological evidence for medieval landscape change across Northern Poland.