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Fyfe R.M.,University of Plymouth | Twiddle C.,University of Aberdeen | Sugita S.,Tallinn University | Gaillard M.-J.,Linnaeus University | And 12 more authors.
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2013

The vegetation of Europe has undergone substantial changes during the course of the Holocene epoch, resulting from range expansion of plants following climate amelioration, competition between taxa and disturbance through anthropogenic activities. Much of the detail of this pattern is understood from decades of pollen analytical work across Europe, and this understanding has been used to address questions relating to vegetation-climate feedback, biogeography and human impact. Recent advances in modelling the relationship between pollen and vegetation now make it possible to transform pollen proportions into estimates of vegetation cover at both regional and local spatial scales, using the Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm (LRA), i.e. the REVEALS (Regional Estimates of VEgetation Abundance from Large Sites) and the LOVE (LOcal VEgetation) models. This paper presents the compilation and analysis of 73 pollen stratigraphies from the British Isles, to assess the application of the LRA and describe the pattern of landscape/woodland openness (i.e. the cover of low herb and bushy vegetation) through the Holocene. The results show that multiple small sites can be used as an effective replacement for a single large site for the reconstruction of regional vegetation cover. The REVEALS vegetation estimates imply that the British Isles had a greater degree of landscape/woodland openness at the regional scale than areas on the European mainland. There is considerable spatial bias in the British Isles dataset towards wetland areas and uplands, which may explain higher estimates of landscape openness compared with Europe. Where multiple estimates of regional vegetation are available from within the same region inter-regional differences are greater than intra-regional differences, supporting the use of the REVEALS model to the estimation of regional vegetation from pollen data. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Harding P.,Wessex Archaeology | Bridgland D.R.,Durham University | Allen P.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Bradley P.,Wessex Archaeology | And 8 more authors.
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association | Year: 2012

This paper reports important findings relating to the chronology of Palaeolithic occupation, artefact typology and Quaternary fluvial deposits from a geoarchaeological watching brief undertaken over 17 years at Kimbridge Farm Quarry, Dunbridge, Hampshire. Sections were recorded and sampled and 198 artefacts, principally hand axes, were collected, with the primary aim of enhancing understanding of the geological context of the richest Lower Palaeolithic assemblage from Hampshire. Digital terrain modelling was used to characterize the three-dimensional form of the fluvial geology. Two gravel terraces have been confirmed: an upper Belbin Formation, which contained most of the archaeological artefacts, and a lower Mottisfont Formation. Results of specific note included recovery of artefacts demonstrating elements of 'proto-Levallois' technology from within the Belbin Gravel deposition. Fully developed Levallois technology was present across both the Belbin Gravel and the Mottisfont Formation at Dunbridge, the latter having an otherwise relatively sparse Palaeolithic content. Previously published OSL dating, supplemented by new data, has been combined with uplift modelling to suggest dates of MIS 9b and MIS 8, respectively, for these two gravels. This fits well with evidence from other sites in England and the near Continent for the timing of the earliest Levallois at around MIS 9. The results from the Dunbridge watching brief have demonstrated that this response provides a relatively cost effective method by which important scientific data can be salvaged from commercial quarrying. © 2012 The Geologists' Association.

Dungworth D.,English Heritage Fort Cumberland | Mepham L.,Wessex Archaeology
Historical Metallurgy | Year: 2012

An archaeological excavation at Shooters Hill in south-east London revealed a ditch which contained a substantial quantity of iron smelting slag. The only dating evidence from the fill of the ditch is provided by Early Iron Age pottery. Shooters Hill is one of the earliest known iron production sites in Britain and suggests that this region (the lower Thames valley) may have played a significant role in the introduction of iron manufacture.

Redfern R.C.,Center for Human Bioarchaeology | Dewitte S.N.,University of South Carolina | Pearce J.,King's College London | Hamlin C.,University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee | Dinwiddy K.E.,Wessex Archaeology
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2015

In the Roman period, urban and rural ways of living were differentiated philosophically and legally, and this is the first regional study of these contrasting life-ways. Focusing on frailty and mortality risk, we investigated how these differed by age, sex, and status, using coffin type as a proxy for social status. We employed skeletal data from 344 individuals: 150 rural and 194 urban (1st-5th centuries A.D.) from Dorset, England. Frailty and mortality risk were examined using indicators of stress (cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, nonspecific periostitis, and enamel hypoplastic defects), specific metabolic and infectious diseases (rickets, scurvy, and tuberculosis), and dental health (carious lesions and calculus). These variables were studied using Chi-square, Siler model of mortality, Kaplan-Meier analysis, and the Gompertz model of adult mortality. Our study found that overall, mortality risk and survivorship did not differ between cemetery types but when the data were examined by age, mortality risk was only significantly higher for urban subadults. Demographic differences were found, with urban cemeteries having more 0-10 and >35 year olds, and for health, urban cemeteries had significantly higher frequencies of enamel hypoplastic defects, carious lesions, and rickets. Interestingly, no significant difference in status was observed between rural and urban cemeteries. The most significant finding was the influence of the skeletal and funerary data from the Poundbury sites, which had different demographic profiles, significantly higher frequencies of the indicators of stress and dental health variables. In conclusion, there are significant health, demographic, and mortality differences between rural and urban populations in Roman Britain. Am J Phys Anthropol 157:107-120, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Fuller D.Q.,University College London | Allaby R.G.,University of Warwick | Stevens C.,Wessex Archaeology
World Archaeology | Year: 2010

The origins of agriculture involved pathways of domestication in which human behaviours and plant genetic adaptations were entangled. These changes resulted in consequences that were unintended at the start of the process. This paper highlights some of the key innovations in human behaviours, such as soil preparation, harvesting and threshing, and how these were coupled with genetic 'innovations' within plant populations. We identify a number of 'traps' for early cultivators, including the needs for extra labour expenditure on crop-processing and soil fertility maintenance, but also linked gains in terms of potential crop yields. Compilations of quantitative data across a few different crops for the traits of non-shattering and seed size are discussed in terms of the apparently slow process of domestication, and parallels and differences between different regional pathways are identified. We highlight the need to bridge the gap between a Neolithic archaeobotanical focus on domestication and a focus of later periods on crop-processing activities and labour organization. In addition, archaeobotanical data provide a basis for rethinking previous assumptions about how plant genetic data should be related to the origins of agriculture and we contrast two alternative hypotheses: gradual evolution with low selection pressure versus metastable equilibrium that prolonged the persistence of 'semi-domesticated' populations. Our revised understanding of the innovations involved in plant domestication highlight the need for new approaches to collecting, modelling and integrating genetic data and archaeobotanical evidence. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

Last J.,English Heritage | Brown E.J.,Natural England | Bridgland D.R.,Durham University | Harding P.,Wessex Archaeology
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association | Year: 2013

This paper explores the links between the study and conservation of Palaeolithic archaeology and Quaternary geology, using examples from England. In Britain, human occupation is believed to have started approximately 800,000 years ago, thus giving rise to significant overlap between sediments studied by Quaternary geologists and those of interest to Palaeolithic archaeologists. Given the scientific importance of understanding environmental change and its impact on previous populations, along with the cultural significance of studying past human communities, there is an equal need to understand the opportunities and challenges for conservation. There are long-standing legislative, resourcing and methodological differences between geological and archaeological conservation, which we review here, as well as different approaches to site selection and management. There are also differences between the treatment of Palaeolithic and more recent archaeology, which strengthen the need for a closer alliance with Quaternary geoconservation. Ultimately, successful conservation of Palaeolithic archaeology and Quaternary geology should use both heritage protection and geoconservation measures to best advantage, for which mutual understanding is essential. Here, as a contribution to furthering such understanding, we explore the opportunities and challenges for conservation, and set out key areas and priorities for effective collaboration, which is illustrated by a case study from Cannoncourt Farm Pit SSSI (Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK). © 2013 The Geologists' Association.

Tizzard L.,Geoservices | Bicket A.R.,Wessex Archaeology | Benjamin J.,Flinders University | Loecker D.D.,Leiden University
Journal of Quaternary Science | Year: 2014

The potential for Middle Palaeolithic sites to survive beneath the sea in northern latitudes has been established by intensive investigation within Area 240, a marine aggregate licence area situated in the North Sea, 11km off the coast of Norfolk, England. The fortuitous discovery of bifacial handaxes, and Levallois flakes and cores, led to a major programme of fieldwork and analysis between 2008 and 2013. The artefacts were primarily recovered from Marine Isotope Stage 8/7 floodplain sediments deposited between 250 and 200 ka. It is considered that the hand axes and Levallois products are contemporaneous in geological terms with taphonomically complex sedimentary contexts, as observed in several north-west European sites. The Early Middle Palaeolithic (EMP) lithics have survived multiple phases of glaciation and marine transgression. The investigations confirm that the artefacts are not a 'chance' find, but indicate clear relationships to submerged and buried landscapes that, although complex, can be examined in detail using a variety of existing fieldwork and analytical methods. The palaeogeographical context of the finds also offers expanded interpretations of the distribution of EMP hominins in the southern North Sea, not predictable from onshore archaeological records. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Bicket A.,Wessex Archaeology | Bicket A.,Loughborough University | Tizzard L.,Geoservices
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association | Year: 2015

Significant progress has been made on the investigation of Quaternary submerged prehistory in the British Isles. Mainly through collaboration with industry, a considerable knowledge base has been developed on the distribution and nature of preserved palaeolandscapes of the last 1 million years in UK waters. A diverse array of material has been recovered from the seabed including bone and stone artefacts, extinct fauna, peat deposits, submerged forests and other remnants of relict landscapes from around the British Isles. Archaeological sites are rarer but Palaeolithic and Mesolithic examples are providing critical resources to reinterpret early prehistory in association with Quaternary palaeogeography. © 2015 The Geologists' Association.

Lymer K.,Wessex Archaeology
Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage | Year: 2015

Contemporary rock art researchers have a wide choice of 3D laser scanners available to them for recording stone surfaces and this is complimented by numerous software packages that are able to process point cloud data. Though ESRI's ArcGIS primarily handles geographical data, it also offers the ability to visualise XYZ data from a stone surface. In this article the potential of ArcGIS for rock art research is explored by focusing on 3D data obtained from two panels of cup and ring marks found at Loups's Hill, County Durham, England. A selection of methods commonly utilised in LiDAR studies, which enhance the identification of landscape features, are also conducted upon the rock panels, including DSM normalisation and raster data Principle Component Analysis (PCA). Collectively, the visualisations produced from these techniques facilitate the identification of the rock art motifs, but there are limitations to these enhancements that are also discussed. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Cripps P.,Wessex Archaeology
GIM International | Year: 2012

The article describes how the archeological survey was conducted on Sandsfoot Castle built in the 1530s, during the reign of King Henry VIII, on a cliff overlooking Portland Harbor, Dorset, UK. Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to undertake recording and survey work to contribute to a Conservation Management Plan that was being drawn up by the council and the 'Friends of Rodwell Trail and Sandsfoot Castle' local society. The aim of the archaeological survey and recording work was to provide an accurate and current record of the state of the site in order to inform the repair and restoration program necessary to stabilize the structure before any further work could take place and to support the design proposals for the improved visitor access, including a new raised walkway around the inside of the castle.

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