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Vegetation, landscape and human activity in Midland Ireland: mire and lake records from the Lough Kinale-Derragh Lough area, Central Ireland

Brown, AG; Hatton, J; O'Brien, CE; Selby, KA; Langdon, PG; Stuijts, I; Caseldine, CJ


AG Brown

J Hatton

KA Selby

PG Langdon

I Stuijts

CJ Caseldine


A high-resolution pollen record for the Holocene has been obtained from Derragh Bog, a small raised mire located on a peninsula in Lough Kinale-Derragh Lough, in Central Ireland as part of the Discovery Programme ( Ireland) Lake Settlements Project. The data are compared with two lower resolution diagrams, one obtained from Derragh Lough and one from adjacent to a crannog in Lough Kinale. The general trends of vegetation change are similar and indicate that landscape-scale clearance did not occur until the Medieval period (ca. a. d. 800 - 900). There are, however, significant differences between the diagrams due primarily to core location and taphonomy, including pollen source area. Only the pollen profile from Derragh Bog reveals an unusually well represented multi-phase primary decline in Ulmus ca. 3500 3100 b.c. ( 4800 - 4750(14)C b. p.) which is associated with the first arable farming in the area. The pollen diagram indicates a rapid, and almost complete, clearance of a stand of Ulmus with some Quercus on the Derragh peninsula, arable cultivation in the clearing and then abandonment by mobile/shifting late Neolithic farmers. Subsequently there are a number of clearance phases which allow the colonisation of the area by Fraxinus and are probably associated with pastoral activity. The pollen sequence from adjacent to a crannog in Lough Kinale shows clear evidence of the construction and use of the crannog for the storage of crops ( Hordeum and Avena) whereas the Derragh Bog diagram and the diagram from Derragh Lough reflect the growth of the mire. This study reveals that in this landscape the record from a small mire shows changes in prehistoric vegetation caused by human agriculture that are not detectable in the lake sequences. Although in part this is due to the higher temporal resolution and more consistent and complete chronology for the mire, the most important factor is the closer proximity of the raised mire sequence to the dry land. However, the pollen sequence from adjacent to a crannog does provide detailed evidence of the construction and function of the site. It is concluded that in order to ascertain a complete picture of vegetation changes in a lowland shallow lake-dominated landscape, cores from both the lake and surrounding small mires should be analysed.


Brown, A., Hatton, J., O'Brien, C., Selby, K., Langdon, P., Stuijts, I., & Caseldine, C. (2005). Vegetation, landscape and human activity in Midland Ireland: mire and lake records from the Lough Kinale-Derragh Lough area, Central Ireland. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 14(2), 81-98.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2005-07
Journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
Print ISSN 0939-6314
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 2
Pages 81-98
Keywords pollen; raised mire; lake sediments; Ulmus decline; Crannog; deforestation