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Neolithic/Bronze Age deforestation in UK
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This is something I've been pondering fer a while now, as some of the figures I've read from various sources seem incredible in their forecasts of woodland clearance. By the end of the Neolithic, woodland cover dropped from 75% to under 50% of what we would call 'old/ancient' wild wood. Felled, burned, diseased, though depending on who you read, quite a lot of loss is attributed to climate change etc. This seems an incredible achievement for folks who allegedly only used stone axes, fire or tree ringing. The pollen record shows periodic regrowth/ population retreat from some areas around the mid/late Neolithic ( could this be due to the dreaded Neolithic bubonic plague I read about a while ago). Also There was a mass die off of elm trees after 4000BCE (possibly Dutch elm disease?) or just over cropping. By the end of the Bronze Age, there was supposedly less tree cover than we currently have in the UK (currently somewhere in the region of 12.7% in a recent-ish survey). In the fascinating book 'Times Anvil' by Richard Morris (and I'm paraphrasing massively here) it's a long standing archaeological conundrum, how a smallish population by today's standards could cause such change/destruction in the landscape.This is an interesting (if a little academic) read ... https://www.researchgate.net/p[...]ate-inferred_population_change
Also, this is an interesting overview of population density for central Europe from 6000BCE to Roman times. https://digitalcommons.wayne.e[...]i?article=1060&context=humbiol
According to their calculations, around 6000BCE, KM2 population density in certain Rhineland areas was approx 0.6 people per KM2, so I guess, if you estimate the UK to have a similar figure, our Neolithic population would have numbered something in the region of 146000. Sadly didn't manage to find any info directly pertaining to UK population at that time, so Rhineland info was as near as I got. Any thoughts on the subject?? I gotta say, for me it does call into question the whole 'living in harmony with nature' stuff that often gets attributed to the prehistoric era. Seems to me, if they had bulldozers, they'd a used em.


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Posted by Monganaut
1st July 2018ce
04:16

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