GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 124-6
Presentation Time: 3:10 PM


STOLZE, Susann, Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401, United States Minor Outlying Islands,

County Sligo in the northwest of Ireland is remarkable as it contains a particularly high concentration of Neolithic monuments (4000-2500 years BC). The presence of lakes in vicinity to the Carrowkeel-Keshcorran megalithic complex, one of the four major passage tomb sites in Ireland, made this area ideal for the reconstruction of environmental change linked to climate variability and human activities at a high spatial resolution. Previous multi-proxy studies on sediment cores from small lakes in the area provided critical information on changes in the local farming practices during the Neolithic. The present study focuses on a large lake to provide a more regional picture of farming practices and vegetation history. Pollen and geochemical analyses, along with radiocarbon dating, were carried out on a sediment core recovered from Lough Arrow which is located to the east of the passage tomb complex. The studied sediments were deposited during the Irish Neolithic and the onset of the Bronze Age between c. 3980-2280 years BC. The pollen data suggests that early Neolithic woodland clearance took place following the mid-Holocene elm decline dated at c. 3820 years BC. Human impact on the landscape was most pronounced during the early and beginning of the mid-Neolithic, when cereal cultivation formed an important part of the farming economy. The favourable climatic conditions of the earlier Neolithic permitted the cultivation of mainly wheat and possibly some barley between c. 3740-3480 years BC. The pollen and fungal spore records indicate a change in the farming economy towards mostly pastoral farming during the later Neolithic, when climatic conditions became cooler and wetter. Similar to the previously studied pollen records, anthropogenic activities became marginal by c. 2900 years BC and remained low in the region until the onset of the Bronze Age.