Climate Change and the Wetlands of Ireland

Project Overview

This collaborative research project involves staff from the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science (SAGES), University of Reading, Archaeological Development Services Ltd. (ADS) and the Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL).

Its aims are to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the relationships between human activities, environmental change and the climatic history of the Midlands of Ireland.

Joint funding from The Heritage Council, Irish National Strategic Archaeological Research Fund (INSTAR) and Bord na Mona have been secured for the archaeological excavation of wooden structures (toghers), platforms and trackways, and a settlement, of prehistoric and historic age, which are located in six raised bogs (ombrogenous mires).

Analyses and techniques

As part of the post-excavation analysis programme at Gilltown Bog, Lullymore Bog, Kinnegad Bog, Ballykean Bog, Ballybeg Bog and Littleton Bog, the team are:

  • Reconstructing the environmental context of past human activities, and assessing their impact on the natural environment
  • Examining the relationships between structure construction, reconstruction and abandonment, changes in bog surface wetness and the climate history
  • Attempting to further understand the function of the structures.

To achieve these aims, we are conducting a multi-proxy analytical approach involving:

  • Description of the peat stratigraphy
  • Quantification of the degree of the peat humification and organic matter content
  • Pollen analysis
  • Plant macrofossil analysis, including wood, Sphagna and monocotyledonous remains
  • Insect analysis
  • Testate amoeba
  • Phosphate analysis
  • Stable isotopes
  • Radiocarbon and dendrochronological dating
  • Tephrochronology.

Meet the Team

Members of the wetland ALLIANCE (Archaeological and Palaeoenvironmental Research Network) are conducting this collaborative research project. The wetland ALLIANCE comprises:

  • \Professor Nicholas Branch
  • Mr Dan Young
  • Ms Jane Whittaker (Archaeological Development Services Ltd)
  • Mr Ian Matthews (Royal Holloway University of London)
  • Professor Scott Elias (Royal Holloway University of London)
  • Ms Katie Denton (Royal Holloway University of London)
  • Dr Ben Gearey (University of Birmingham)

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