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Seeing the wood for the trees : recent advances in the reconstruction of woodland in archaeological landscapes using pollen data

Bunting, Jane; Farrell, Michelle


Michelle Farrell


Pollen sequences record the vegetation cover of past landscapes, but translating a pollen diagram into a landscape reconstruction is not straightforward. This paper reviews recent advances in the reconstruction of woodland cover from palynological data and shows how they have been used to address three archaeologically relevant problems: • The detection of woodland presence and extent in a largely open landscape • The reconstruction of the habitat context of a specific archaeological site • The detection of woodland management Pollen surface samples which can be directly related to contemporary vegetation cover are shown to be useful both in their own right and as the basis for calibration of models of pollen dispersal and deposition. These models can be used as a foundation for quantitative reconstruction of past landscapes, for example using the Multiple Scenario Approach, or as a tool for construction and testing of hypotheses and to inform selection of coring sites. We argue that surface sample studies and simulation approaches are improving the scientific basis of reconstruction of past landscapes, and that these approaches offer new opportunities for communication and collaboration between archaeologists and environmental specialists.


Bunting, J., & Farrell, M. (2017). Seeing the wood for the trees : recent advances in the reconstruction of woodland in archaeological landscapes using pollen data. Environmental Archaeology, 23(3), 228-239.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 4, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 27, 2017
Publication Date Sep 27, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 28, 2019
Journal Environmental archaeology
Print ISSN 1461-4103
Electronic ISSN 1749-6314
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 228-239
Keywords Cultural landscapes; Environmental archaeology; Multiple scenario approach; Palynology; Simulation; Woodland
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in Environmental archaeology, 2018. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


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