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Soil Paleocatenas, Prehistoric Land Use, and Coastal Landscape Dynamics at Druridge Bay, Northeast England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Payton


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Coastal erosion of sand dune systems along Druridge Bay, northeast England, has progressively exposed parts of the subdune mid-Holocene landscape, including paleocatenas, indicating former soil hydrosequences with localized wetland habitats, and archaeological evidence of human activities and land use from the Late Mesolithic to the Romano-British period. Archaeological investigations and pedostratigraphic studies of paleosols provide a unique spatial-chronological framework to interpret soil and land use change over several millennia in the context of a changing coastal environment. Evidence includes dating of archaeological remains, the stratigraphy, morphology and micromorphology of buried soils and sediments, and the palynology and radiocarbon dating of subdune peats. Early Bronze Age burial sites were preferentially located on well-drained hillocks also used for grazing. Adjacent wetland depressions provided areas of marshy grassland and swamp over deep fen peat soils that started to develop c. 5435 cal. yr B.P. in response to a rising groundwater table stimulated partly by slow sea-level rise. The backslopes of the paleocatena were occupied by imperfectly to poorly drained soils that supported open oak-hazel woodland with evidence for progressive clearance and use for agriculture. Windblown sand started to accumulate on the study site sometime between 3930 and 3670 cal. yr B.P., well before the Little Ice Age date for dune formation suggested by previous researchers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Payton RW, Bonsall C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geoarchaeology An International Journal

Year: 2016

Volume: 31

Issue: 5

Pages: 388-411

Print publication date: 01/09/2016

Online publication date: 22/06/2016

Acceptance date: 29/10/2015

ISSN (print): 0883-6353

ISSN (electronic): 1520-6548

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/gea.21551


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