Helen Essell

Helen Essell

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Personal profile

Research Focus

My PhD project is a DfE Collaborative studentship entitled: ‘Human-Environment Dynamics through the Holocene in the Mourne Region, Northern Ireland’. Supervised by Dr Gill Plunkett and Dr Maarten Blaauw, in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, this project aims to reconstruct the natural and cultural heritage of the Mournes.

Deep peat records will be collected at sites within the western Mournes to reconstruct the long-term vegetational and climatic history of the region through pollen analysis. Targeted palaeoenvironmental sampling will be conducted in the vicinity of archaeological and historical sites within the Mourne uplands to provide time-specific contextualisations for human activities, and suitable sites in the adjacent lowlands will be sought to establish comparative records for settlement and land-use intensity.

This will allude to the roles of climate and demographic change in stimulating migration to and from higher ground, demonstrating whether past occupation of the Mournes was continuous or intermittent, permanent or transient. With the view to informing public understanding of the complex history of the region, this project aims to ensure a deeper appreciation of the significance of the upland areas for not only past, but present and future populations.