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Middle Holocene environmental change and archaeology in coastal wetlands: further implications for our understanding of the history of Taxus woodland

Batchelor, C. R., Branch, N. P., Carew, T., Elias, S. E., Gale, R., Lafferty, G. E., Matthews, I. P., Meddens, F., Vaughan-Williams, A., Webster, L. A. and Young, D. S. (2020) Middle Holocene environmental change and archaeology in coastal wetlands: further implications for our understanding of the history of Taxus woodland. The Holocene, 30 (2). pp. 300-314. ISSN 0959-6836

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/0959683619883028

Abstract/Summary

A radiocarbon-dated multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental record from Beckton in the Lower Thames Valley, Southern England, has permitted a detailed reconstruction of human activities and environmental change during the middle-Holocene. Peat accumulation occurred over river terrace gravels from ca. 7200 to 6600 until at least 3450–3240 cal. BP, and in the later period a trackway and platform structure provide unequivocal evidence for human exploitation of the floodplain environment during the Bronze Age. The site is unique in offering the first certain evidence of the utilisation of Taxus in the construction of a wooden prehistoric platform. Across north-west Europe during the middle-Holocene, the colonisation of Taxus on peat is well documented; at Beckton, it occurred between ca. 5220–4940 and 4410–4220 cal. BP. This research provides important insights into the former distribution of Taxus, and reasons for its expansion and decline during the Holocene, which has relevance to present-day concerns over the conservation and management of Taxus woodland. Abandonment of the site occurred in response to environmental change to wetter conditions. The study employed multi-proxy analyses, including pollen, plant and wood macrofossils, and uniquely Coleoptera; Coleopteran analysis has significant potential to enhance understandings of environmental change and human–environment interactions in coastal wetland research.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:87184
Publisher:Sage Publications

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