A Palaeoecological Study of Submerged Forests in the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel, UK

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (not awarded by UHI)


Areas of exposed submerged forest along the coastline of the Severn Estuary (Bristol Channel) are the focus of palaeoecological studies to reconstruct Holocene woodlands from the original remains. Sites are located on the western coast of the estuary at Goldcliff East and Redwick, Gwent, southeast Wales and Woolaston Pill, south Gloucestershire; on the eastern shore at Oldbury-on-Severn, south Gloucestershire and Westward Ho!, Devon. Forests date from the mid Mesolithic to the Bronze Age, providing the opportunity to investigate for evidence of human interactions with the woodland. A flaw of previous studies of submerged forests has been to focus on one method for the reconstruction of these environments. A multi-proxy approach was employed to glean a three dimensional picture of these former woodlands using: wood identification, pollen, non-pollen microfossils (i. e. fungal spores), plant macrofossil, dendrochronological and microscopic charcoal analyses. Interactions between
different agencies (i. e. natural, anthropogenic, faunal etc. ) are discussed in relation to their [disturbance] affects on the woodland. Three broad woodland types have been identified: Quercus dominated dense, high canopied deciduous woodland in the mid to late Mesolithic; Alnus dominated carr-woodland in the late Mesolithic to Neolithic and Betula stand in the Bronze Age. These woodlands were home to many different fauna as well as flora of which there is some evidence present from gnawed nuts and footprints. Interactions between various agencies are seen to occur at both a local scale (i. e. windthrow) and regional scale (i. e. sea-level rise). Submerged forests are unique resources giving a window to the prehistoric woodlands and life within them.

Key words: Submerged Forest, Severn Estuary, Palaeoecological Studies, mid
Mesolithic to Bronze Age, Multi-proxy Approach, Interaction, Disturbance, Quercus woodland, Alnus carr-woodland, Betula stand.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationReading
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Submerged forest
  • Pollen
  • Palaeoecology
  • Woodland
  • Severn estuary


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