Vegetation Changes and Woodland Management Associated with a Prehistoric to Medieval Burnt Mound Complex at Ballygawley, Northern Ireland

Tim Mighall, Scott Timpany, Jane Wheeler, L. Bailey, M. Bamforth

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This paper examines the impact on woodlands associated with burnt mound use from floodplain sediments and peats, using a combination of pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, micro- and macro-charcoal and worked wood for the first time. We present this data from a multi-period burnt mound complex, dating from the Late Neolithic to the Medieval period, at Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, to reconstruct vegetation changes from the Neolithic onwards and establish the significance of these changes, in particular on woodlands whilst the burnt mounds were in use. The findings from the macroscopic charcoal suggests the most abundant trees were commonly, but not exclusively, exploited. Local woodland was seemingly unaffected by use of burnt mounds during the Neolithic and early Bronze Age based on pollen evidence. A sustained increase in microscopic charcoal coincides with a permanent decrease in alder-carr woodland during a period of near continuous burnt mound use between 1725 and 530 BC, and a second phase of high microscopic charcoal values, c. AD 880, corresponds to the end of the penultimate phase of burnt mound use. Evidence from the worked wood suggests that some form of woodland management was used for hazel from the Neolithic onwards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-285
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Archaeology
Issue number3
Early online date6 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018



  • Prehistory
  • Medieval
  • Burnt mounds
  • pollen
  • non-pollen palynomorphs
  • charcoal
  • woodland management
  • northern isreland

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