The Midlands of England: Economic Backwater or an Agricultural Powerhouse? Environmental Evidence from Prehistory to Modern Times Recorded in Sediments from Aqualate Mere, Central England, UK

Timothy Mighall, Nathan Pittman, Ian D.L. Foster, Paul Ledger, Jason Jordan, Antonio Martinez Cortizas, Mark Bateman

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Abstract

Archaeological and palaeoecological evidence relating to human activity in the English Midlands is scant compared to elsewhere in Britain. Knowledge of human activity in pre-Roman and Roman times is often fragmentary and disparate in parts of the region where it could be assumed that the resident population was small with little Roman impact. To examine these contentions, a palaeoenvironmental investigation from Aqualate Mere near Newport, Staffordshire, has been undertaken on the sediment record extending back to c. 1300 cal. BC. An analysis of microfossils, microscopic charcoal, sediment chemistry and mineral magnetism from a core dated by 14C, SCPs, 210Pb and 137Cs has provided an opportunity to reconstruct land use changes and atmospheric pollution from the later prehistoric period onwards. The results challenge the idea this region was a backwater as there is near-continuous agricultural activity around the mere since the Late Bronze Age through to modern times. This is characterised by phases of woodland decline, an intensification of farming, soil erosion, evidence for possible eutrophication and regional lead pollution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages26
JournalEnvironmental Archaeology: The Journal of Human Palaeoecology
Volume(In-Press)
Early online date15 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis GroupThis is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, orbuilt upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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Keywords

  • Prehistory
  • Romans
  • English Midlands
  • land-use
  • vegetation change
  • pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Archaeology
  • Geology

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