Multi-profile fine-resolution palynology of Late Mesolithic to Bronze Age peat at Cat Stones, Rishworth Moor, Central Pennines, UK

Bruce M. Albert, James B. Innes (Lead / Corresponding author), Jeff J. Blackford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Palynological data from three radiocarbon dated peat profiles at Rishworth Moor in the Pennine hills of northern England provide a record of vegetation change and human impacts in the Late Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. All three cultures have archaeological sites present in the vicinity, with Late Mesolithic sites by far the most abundant, comprising mainly very late assemblages dominated by ‘rod’-shaped microliths. Pollen evidence of vegetation disturbance occurs during all three archaeological periods, and is attributed to the results of human activity. Microscopic charcoal and non-pollen palynomorph analyses support the pollen evidence. Sites at Cat Stones 2 and Cat Stones 3 record evidence of Neolithic and Bronze Age date only. Cat Stones 1 extends into the Late Mesolithic period, and fine-resolution pollen analyses have been applied in this profile to the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition leading up to the mid-Holocene Elm (Ulmus) Decline, which starts here at c. 4940 14C BP (5670 cal. BP), a typical date for it in the central Pennines. Bayesian age-depth modelling provides precise ages for the vegetation changes and their spatial correlation. The plateau was dominated by scrub and grassy Calluna heath from the Late Mesolithic onwards. Elevated microscopic charcoal levels and ruderal herb pollen record phases of fire disturbance below the Elm Decline, including a grain of Hordeum cereal-type. Whether this grain represents early cultivation requires further research. Bronze Age impacts are of greater intensity, but disturbances of all three cultural periods are low scale, agreeing with the results of previous research in the Pennines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-501
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Early online date29 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Bronze Age
  • Central Pennines
  • fire disturbance
  • high-resolution palynology
  • Hordeum pollen
  • Mesolithic–Neolithic transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Multi-profile fine-resolution palynology of Late Mesolithic to Bronze Age peat at Cat Stones, Rishworth Moor, Central Pennines, UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this