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e-book Landscapes of Settlement: Prehistory to the Present

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The New Zealand environment began to be modified upon arrival of the first settlers.

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Even relatively small populations of people cause detectable impacts on previously uninhabited ecosystems and the colonisation of New Zealand was no exception. Like many island archipelagos in the Pacific, New Zealand was particularly sensitive to human settlement.


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Its unique plants and animals had remained isolated for many millennia and were unprepared for the arrival of people and their introduced mammalian predators. Paradoxically, the extent of forest loss shows no clear relationship with population density; many sparsely inhabited regions were more severely affected than those densely settled. In our work we address the issue of how this deforested landscape was achieved and maintained, and why.


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Some of the key questions are: Was landscape burning a frequent, purposeful activity designed to maintain an open vegetation cover? Or were some regions too vulnerable to accidental, occasional fire to remain in forest? The question of exactly when the first people arrived in New Zealand is hotly debated.

Landscapes of Settlement: Prehistory to the Present

Although the extensive amount of earliest dated archaeological evidence and records for deforestation agree well with this time, there are alternative traditions and evidence that suggest other people were present in New Zealand for a long time before Maori settlers arrived, but they apparently left no evidence of their presence on the environment. The two peat and sediment sequences from Dun Law 3 and Dun Law span the period c. The landscape reconstruction indicates a natural succession of the upland woodland cover at Dun Law during the mid-Holocene followed by small-scale incursions into the upland woodland during the Neolithic period.

Large-scale woodland clearance occurs from c. Post Roman-Iron Age, the cleared landscape appears to have been maintained probably for the use of resources of willow and pasture.

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In this presentation, I will briefly consider the ways in which past landscapes have been categorised and understood in archaeological interpretations of the Tyne-Forth region. I will then explore a variety of contemporary ways in which landscapes are categorised and understood. Finally, I will outline different approaches to landscape research and assess their potential implications for future research in the Tyne-Forth region. Later prehistoric settlement from the Tees to the Forth: the timing of transformation and the tempo of renewal. The use of radiocarbon and Bayesian modeling to create robust chronological frameworks for 18 sites from the Tees to the Forth has begun to show that settlements in this area were capable of swift change.

My recent PhD research suggests a far more dynamic model of Iron Age society than perhaps previously allowed, with settlements across the region suddenly shifting from open and nucleated to dispersed and enclosed at approximately the same time c.

This research has also begun to shed light on the tempo of renewal within the settlement — both of roundhouses and ditches. While we might debate the degree, it seems fairly plain that our indigenous population enters history only when it becomes sufficiently visible through the written word for something worthwhile to be understood of its nature and development. A handful of place names, or a notice of when it came into conflict with foreign interests do not constitute a history of a native community.

Landscapes in prehistory

Such casual notices might point up an individual or lightly denote a grouping, but they hardly provide a dynamic that either illustrates their nature or their activities in such a way as we might recognise and define as a historical narrative. The general lack of Roman written records of an appropriate type leaves us - as for earlier centuries - entirely dependent upon the information that can be derived from the application of archaeological techniques.

The wetlands at Bradford Kaims were a series of lakes through the prehistoric era and into the Medieval period. The first of several seasons work has focused on generating predictive models to identify areas of potential settlement. A series of trenches were excavated at the point where the largest lake discharges into a river, which flows into further lakes and ultimately into the North Sea. It was possible to establish the highest level of the lake in the stratigraphic sequence, and a flag-stone structure sealed beneath thick colluvium and a layer of lacustrine detrital mud.

This has afforded some lithic material and animal bone, provisionally dated by archaeomagnetic methods to between BC and BC.


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If this is correct, the site would be one of the few from the terminal Mesolithic or incipient Neolithic in Britain. More research shall unfold this summer. Continuous development from timber to stone-built architecture at Broxmouth supported emerging ideas that the latter developed from long-lived, native, traditions and was not the product of incoming Roman culture.

Chiefly, my main research question is to assess the ways in which Iron Age roundhouses structured and facilitated the daily lives of their inhabitants.

Flying Past - The Historic Environment of Cornwall: The Prehistoric Landscape

A recent evaluation by GUARD ahead of quarry expansion on Soutra Hill, south east of Edinburgh, has uncovered the remains of a multi-period prehistoric landscape: a cairn, timber circle and cord rig all point to the extensive use of the hill. Post-excavation work is still in progress but the work may shed much light on the complexities of land-use in later prehistory.

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Traprain Law and its environs is probably the best understood later prehistoric landscape in NW Europe. The exceptional, though selective cropmark record of later prehistoric settlement on the lower ground around the Law provides the best example to link data on landscape change to landscape archaeology. Tyne-Forth Prehistory Forum.