Natural to cultural: The vegetation history of the southern Yorkshire Dales, UK

Graeme T. Swindles*, Jennifer M. Galloway, Garry Rushworth, Jane Wheeler, Philip Murphy, Timothy F. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Yorkshire Dales is one of the most iconic agricultural landscapes in Britain. However, many questions remain over the evolution of this landscape through time and its natural state before major human impacts. Here we present new palynological data that provide insight into the vegetation and fire history of the southern Yorkshire Dales from the late glacial period to present day. Our data suggest that there is considerable variation in vegetation history between sites, which probably reflects topographic and edaphic factors. Several of the records contain hiatuses that may reflect forest clearance, slow peat accumulation, or peat drainage, cutting and/or burning. Our data show a marked clearance of woodland beginning in the Neolithic period and intensifying in more recent times, marking the development of the contemporary agricultural landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104328
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Early online date20 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
GR acknowledges a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) PhD studentship ( NER/S/A/2005/13246 ). We thank Natural England for access to the sites, and NERC and Robert White at the Yorkshire Dales National Park for funding radiocarbon dates for this project. We also thank John and Wendy Thorp and Phil Hudson for sharing their local knowledge of the Yorkshire Dales, and Tom Lord for access to the Winskill Archive and sustained project support. JMG contributed to this paper during the AIAS-COFUND II fellowship programme and was supported by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions under the European Union's Horizon 2020 (Grant agreement no. 754513 ) and the Aarhus University Research Foundation . The contribution of JMG represents NRCan contribution number/Numéro de contribution de RNCan: 20200342). We thank the two anonymous reviewers of this paper for their constructive comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Holocene
  • Human impact
  • Late glacial
  • Paleoecology
  • Pollen
  • Yorkshire Dales

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Palaeontology


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