Helen Essell

Helen Essell

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Personal profile

Research Focus

I am a PhD student working on the project: ‘Human-Environment Dynamics through the Holocene in the Mourne Region, Northern Ireland’, which aims to reconstruct the natural and cultural heritage of the Mourne Mountains.

A palaeoecological approach will be adopted to achieve this. Through pollen analysis of deep peat records collected from sites within the western Mournes, the long-term vegetational and climatic backdrop to the region’s complex history will be reconstructed. Targeted palaeoenvironmental sampling will be conducted in the vicinity of archaeological and historical sites situated in the Mourne uplands and adjacent lowlands, providing time specific environmental contextualisations for human activities. Well constrained chronologies will be established using tephrochronological and radiocarbon dating techniques.

It is hoped this will allude to the processes, timing and inter-relationships of natural and human agencies which have shaped the Mournes over recent millennia, improving understanding of social and ecological vulnerability/resilience in an arguably marginal landscape.

The project is supervised by Dr Gill Plunkett and Dr Maarten Blaauw, in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, and is funded by DfE.