Holocene Fire Histories from the edge of Romney Marsh

Grant, M and Waller, Martyn (2010) Holocene Fire Histories from the edge of Romney Marsh. In: Waller, Martyn P , Edwards, Elizabeth and Barber, Luke, (eds.) Romney Marsh: Persistence and change in a Coastal Lowland. Sevenoaks, U.K. : Romney Marsh Research Trust. pp. 53-73. ISBN 9780956657503


The Holocene fire history of the Pannel and Brede valleys is evaluated using records of microscopic charcoal from five sites that had previously been studied using pollen analysis. The sites range in age from c. 9700 cal. yr BC to cal. yr AD 400. Peaks in the deposition of charcoal have been identified and are discussed in relation to climatic, vegetational, anthropogenic and sedimentological influences. A number of peaks in charcoal frequency occur during the early Holocene at Pannel Bridge. These correspond with vegetation changes, as inferred from the pollen record, which indicate the in situ burning of vegetation. With Late Mesolithic flint scatters occurring in close proximity, humans may well have been a source of ignition, though the frequency and intensity of burns is likely to also be linked to conducive climatic conditions and/or suitable sources of fuel. The Tilia-dominated woodlands of the mid-Holocene appear to have been relatively free from such disturbance, yet immediately after the Ulmus decline a phase of burning can be identified at sites from both valleys. Charcoal frequencies increase during the late Holocene, although changes in the nature and rate of sedimentation at the sites investigated are likely to have had an important influence on the charcoal record. This increase is also likely in part to reflect the use of fire in domestic and industrial settings.

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