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Journal of Biogeography (J. Biogeogr.

) (2007) 34, 575–582

SPECIAL PAPER

Abandonment of farmland and vegetation succession following the Eurasian plague pandemic of AD 1347–52
Dan Yeloff* and Bas van Geel

Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Research Group Paleoecology and Landscape Ecology, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Kruislaan 318, 1098 SM Amsterdam, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT

Aim This paper reviews the available documentary, archaeological and palaeoecological evidence for the abandonment of agricultural land and consequent regeneration of the forest in Europe after the Black Death. Location Western and northern Europe. Methods This review is the result of an exhaustive search of the historical, archaeological and palaeoecological literature for evidence indicating agricultural decline and forest regeneration in Eurasia during the 14th century. The available evidence for landscape change can be divided into two categories: (1) documentary and archaeological sources, and (2) palaeoecological reconstructions of past vegetation. In the past few years, several pollen diagrams from north-west Europe have been reported with precise chronologies (decadal and even annual scale) showing the abandonment of farmland and consequent ecological change in the late medieval period. Results and main conclusions There is strong evidence of agricultural continuity at several sites in Western Europe at the time of the Black Death. The effects of the Black Death on the European rural landscape varied geographically, with major factors probably including the impact of the plague on the local population, and soil quality. At two sites in western and northern Ireland, the late medieval decline in cereal agriculture was probably a direct result of population reduction following the Black Death. In contrast, the decline in cereal production began at sites in Britain and France before the Black Death pandemic of ad 1347– 52, and was probably due to the crisis in the agricultural economy, exacerbated by political instability and climate deterioration. Much of the abandoned arable land was probably exploited for grazing during the period between the decline in cereal farming and the Black Death. In the aftermath of the Black Death, grazing pressure was greatly reduced owing to reductions in the grazing animal population and a shortage of farmers. Vegetation succession on the abandoned grazing land resulted in increased cover of woody tree species, particularly Betula and Corylus, by the late 14th century. The cover of woodland was greatest at c. ad 1400, before forest clearance and agriculture increased in intensity. Keywords Black Death, Europe, farm abandonment, Middle Ages, plague, vegetation ¨ succession, woodland regeneration, Wustungen.

*Correspondence: Dan Yeloff, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Research Group Paleoecology and Landscape Ecology, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Kruislaan 318, 1098 SM Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: yeloff@science.uva.nl

INTRODUCTION The potential of the forest to regenerate is enormous. In many situations, changes in the local human population have been linked intrinsically with vegetation cover, simplified to a ‘lessª 2007 The Authors Journal compilation ª 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

people-equals-more-forest’ relationship (Williams, 2000). The phenomenon of reforestation following population reduction or economic decline has been well documented in the aftermath of farm abandonment in eastern north America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Matlack, 1997;
www.blackwellpublishing.com/jbi doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2006.01674.x

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D. Yeloff and B. van Geel Benjamin et al., 2005), and on the Yucatan Peninsula of Central America after the collapse of the Mayan civilization in the early 9th century (Islebe et al., 1996; Curtis et al., 1998; Wahl et al., 2006). The Eurasian plague pandemic of the mid-14th century (variously labelled the ‘Black Death’, ‘Great Mortality’ or ‘Year of Annihilation’) has been estimated to have resulted in a huge reduction in population. Hypothesized to have originated on the steppe of Mongolia and eastern China, and to have migrated along trade routes (McNeill, 1998), the plague reached the Mediterranean basin by ad 1347. In Europe, mortality ranged between 30% and 60% of the population, depending on location (Kelly, 2005). However, despite the abundance of historical sources detailing the loss of population following the outbreak of disease in ad 1347–52 (Naphy & Spicer, 2000), until recently there has been little evidence demonstrating changes in the rural landscape that would have resulted from the drastic and rapid reduction in population. In recent years though, several pollen diagrams have been published with high enough palynological resolution and dating precision to show patterns of vegetation change and succession resulting from agricultural decline and farm abandonment in the face of the plague. This paper reviews the available documentary, archaeological and palaeoecological evidence for the abandonment of agricultural land and consequent regeneration of the forest in Europe after the Black Death. In addition to increasing the knowledge of changes in the medieval European rural landscape, this issue is pertinent to our understanding of the global climate system. Ruddiman (2003) hypothesized that the reforestation of abandoned farms in western Eurasia following the plague pandemic sequestered enough carbon to account for the 14th century minima in CO2 observed in the Antarctic ice-core records from Law and ¨ Taylor Domes (Etheridge et al., 1996; Indermuhle et al., 1999). The population reduction due to plague was therefore inferred to be indirectly responsible for decreased CO2 levels, and a consequent cooling of climate. This is in contrast to the large body of evidence suggesting that climatic cooling at the beginning of the Little Ice Age was the result of a decline in solar activity (Bond et al., 2001). The findings of this review are discussed in the context of Ruddiman’s hypothesis. METHODS This review is the result of an exhaustive search of the historical, archaeological and palaeoecological literature for evidence indicating agricultural decline and forest regeneration in Eurasia during the 14th century. The review considers only evidence showing agricultural decline and/or reforestation during the 14th century. However, it must be taken into account that there is also evidence available from other sites showing agricultural continuity during this period: the issue of continuity is considered further in the Discussion. The available evidence for landscape change can be divided into two categories: (1) documentary and archaeological sources, 576
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and (2) palaeoecological reconstructions of past vegetation. The locations of sites discussed in the text are shown in Fig. 1. Early palaeoecological studies (based on pollen analysis) identified intervals of late medieval forest regeneration and agricultural decline with the aftermath of the ad 1347–52 plague pandemic (Overbeck & Griez, 1954; Davies & Turner, 1979; O’Connell, 1986; Teunissen, 1995; Cole & Mitchell, 2003). However, comparisons between sites have been hindered by poor dating precision resulting from low sampling resolution in the pollen analysis; the use of limited 14C dates; or the dating of bulk material often spanning 5–10 cm of stratigraphy and therefore resolving 50–200 years of peat or sediment accumulation. The effects of the Black Death on the local population and consequently the landscape (through agricultural decline and reforestation) would, in all probability, have occurred over a relatively short period, possibly less than 50 years. This suggests that many of the palaeoecological studies would certainly have been liable to the chronological problems of ‘suck-in and smear’ described by Baillie (1991). Therefore, an essential criterion for the review of palaeoecological work is that dating precision should be on the scale of decades, not centuries. Documentary and archaeological sources Compilation and mapping of medieval place names and ¨ abandoned 14th century settlements (German: Wustungen) throughout Germany and East Prussia (part of modern-day ¨ Poland) by H. Jager and other workers (Mortensen &

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Figure 1 Sites mentioned in the text: (1) Hofgeismar; (2) east Sussex Weald; (3) Essex; (4) Garry Bog; (5) Moneyveagh Bog; (6) ¨ Auvergne; (7) Sint Odilienberg; (8) Butterburn Flow; (9) Lille Vildmose.

Journal of Biogeography 34, 575–582 ª 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation ª 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Vegetation succession following the Eurasian plague pandemic ¨ Mortensen, 1938; Jager, 1951, 1954, 1959) has allowed reconstruction of changes in the extent of forest between ad 1300 and 1500. Figure 2 shows an example from Hofgeismar ¨ in western Germany (Jager, 1951). By the end of the ¨ Wustungsperiode 128 out of 169 (75%) settlements had disappeared, and farm abandonment had occurred in all settlements of the Hofgeismar area. As with other regions studied, the forest was estimated to have doubled in area. Noticeably, in these studies there appears to have been no analysis of why the farmland was abandoned. Although the evidence from the east Sussex Weald in southern England is fragmentary, the reversion to woodland was not as widespread as in the central European areas discussed above (Brandon, 1969). In several manors, the process of assarting (converting forest into arable land) came to a complete stop in ad 1348. In other manors, assarting continued on a substantially reduced scale during the 50 years after the arrival of the Black Death. The contraction of arable land is noticeable. On the heavy clay soils in the area, only the better-manured land was left in cultivation after the Black Death; less easily worked fields were left to revert to woodland. One holding was left to go barren ‘on account of the quantity of wood’ (propter magnitudinem bosci). Poos (1991) compiled evidence for changes in land use in the county of Essex (south-east England) during the late medieval period using inquisitions post-mortem: legal proceedings required on the death of any lay persons holding property directly from the Crown. The records of inquisitions post-mortem often included the extent and description of the property, and are therefore useful for reconstructing land use. Although the inquisitions post-mortem record property owned and managed by manorial lords, the land-use patterns are thought to reflect the agricultural practices prevailing locally among all cultivators (Campbell, 1983; Mate, 1985). Figure 3 shows that the area of arable land decreased significantly during the period ad 1307–77, while pasture and woodland increased.
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Mean acreage

200 150 100 50 0 1272-1307 1377-1399

Arable

Meadow Pasture Land use

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Figure 3 Land use in medieval Essex, based on compilation of inquisition post-mortem data by Poos (1991) for two time periods: 1272–1307 and 1377–99. Land use is expressed as mean acreage of property owned and managed by the individual manorial lords (1 acre ¼ 0.404 ha) for the county of Essex. Error bars, ±1 SE.

Palaeoecological evidence In the past few years, several pollen diagrams from north-west Europe have been reported with precise chronologies (decadal and even annual scale) showing the abandonment of farmland and consequent ecological change in the late medieval period. ¨ ¨ Hall (1998, 2003) used the Oræfajokull tephra layer to date vegetation changes in western and Northern Ireland. The ¨ ¨ Oræfajokull tephra has been dated historically to ad 1362 (Hall & Pilcher, 2002). In the absence of other age information, such as 14C dates, it was assumed that peat accumulated at a constant rate between tephra layers of known age. At both the Garry Bog and Moneyveagh Bog sites, cereal pollen was consistently present before the tephra layer, and after ad 1362 became absent, indicating the collapse of arable agriculture. There was no consequent expansion of the forest on the abandoned farmland, as seen in other areas of Europe. This may have been partly due to the pollen sum being composed of all land pollen (including pollen from local bog plants),

(a)

(b)

Figure 2 Landscape and settlement change in the Hofgeismar area during the period c. ad 1290–1430. Adapted from Williams ¨ (2003), which was based on Jager (1951).
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D. Yeloff and B. van Geel possibly making it harder to detect changes in vegetation on the dry soils surrounding the bog. The annually laminated sediment record from Auvergne in the French Massif Central showed a decline in cereal pollen at ad 1340 (ending a period of intense human impact that had begun in ad 1315; Stebich et al., 2005). This was followed in chronological order by declines in Plantago lanceolata L. and Artemisia. At ad 1375, the forest cover began to increase, as indicated by the rise in Alnus, Betula and Corylus pollen. ‘Wiggle-matching’ of accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) 14 C measurements to the radiocarbon calibration curve can produce more precise estimates of calendar age than traditional calibration methods, and often results in age estimates with decadal-scale precision (Blaauw et al., 2003). van Hoof et al. ¨ (2006) reconstructed the vegetation in the Sint Odilienburg area of the south-east Netherlands. Wiggle-matching of radiocarbon dates enabled an age-depth model with subcentennial scale precision for deposits dated to the 14th century to be constructed (van Hoof et al., 2006, p. 400). The decline in cereal pollen (Secale cereale L.) was dated to c. 1350 cal. ad. Increases in the cover of trees, particularly Ulmus, Fraxinus and Betula, occur later than the decline in cereals. Plantago lanceolata increased sharply after the decline in cereal pollen, then declined. At Butterburn Flow in northern England, Yeloff et al. (in press) used a chronology based on the wiggle-matching of AMS 14C measurements (Yeloff et al., 2006) to date vegetation change during the late medieval period (Fig. 4). The 95% confidence intervals of the age estimates of deposits dated to the 14th and 15th centuries was ±7 years. The decline in cereal pollen began somewhat earlier than at other sites, at c. 1270–90 cal. ad (reaching a minimum at c. 1340 cal. ad). This was followed in chronological order by declines in Rumex acetosella-type (peaking at c. 1310 cal. ad), Artemisia (peaking at 1320 cal. ad before declining to zero levels at c. 1400 cal. ad), and P. lanceolata (peaking at c. 1340 cal. ad). Secondary forest began to increase significantly at c. 1350 cal. ad, as shown by the rise in Betula (denoted by the boundary between zones BB12 and BB13 in Fig. 4).
Trees (excluding planted taxa)
Trees (excluding planted taxa) Planted trees

The vegetation of the Lille Vildmose area of Jutland, Denmark (Fig. 5) has been reconstructed using a wigglematch chronology (Yeloff et al., 2006). The 95% confidence intervals of the age estimates of deposits dated to the 14th and 15th centuries ranged between ±18 and ±47 years. The decline in cereal production (mostly S. cereale) began at c. 1330 cal. ad, at the same time as Rumex and P. lanceolata The Rumex pollen was probably mostly composed of R. acetosella L., which has been highlighted as a major weed of rye cultivation during the Middle Ages (Behre, 1981). This was then followed by a slight peak in Artemisia at c. 1370 cal. ad, which declined to a minimum at c. 1400 cal. ad. Much of the variation in Alnus and Betula during this interval may be related to changes in the water level of the lagg fen on the bog margins influencing the composition of the tree cover. However, on the dry soils surrounding the bog, it is clear that secondary woodland composed of Quercus, Corylus and Fagus began to increase significantly at c. 1370 cal. ad (denoted by the boundary between zones DK4 and DK5 in Fig. 5). DISCUSSION In addition to the studies reviewed in this paper, there is strong evidence of agricultural continuity at several sites in Western Europe at the time of the Black Death. In particular, palynological investigations of four sites in the Irish midlands by Hall (2005) do not show a break in the curves of agricultural indicators during the 14th century; and an annually laminated lake-sediment record by Veski et al. (2005) from southern Estonia also shows no significant reforestation or decrease in agriculture during this period. This suggests that the effects of the Black Death on the European rural landscape varied geographically, a major factor probably being the impact of the plague on the local population (with mortality estimates in the range 30–60%; Kelly, 2005). In turn, the reduction of manpower available for farming meant that, in many cases, it would only have been feasible to farm the better-quality soils. This is shown by
Apophytes and anthropochors

Artemisia Brassicaceae Cerealia Humulus/Cannabis type

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Fraxinus

Quercus

Corylus

Betula

Salix Ulmus Picea

Rumex acetosella type

Plantago lanceolata

Herbs

Poaceae

Alnus

Pinus

Urtica

LPAZ

2000 1900 1800 1700 BB14 BB15

Year AD

1600 1500 BB13 1400 1300 1200 1100 1000 20 40 60 80 100 20 20 40 20 40 20 20 40 20 20 40 60 BB11 BB12

Figure 4 Pollen percentage diagram for Butterburn Flow (selected taxa). Grey shading on Fraxinus, Salix, Ulmus, Artemisia, Brassicaceae, Cerealia and Humulus/Cannabis type curves indicates threefold exaggeration. Full details are given by Yeloff et al. (in press).

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Vegetation succession following the Eurasian plague pandemic
Trees (excluding planted taxa)
Apophytes and anthropochors

Trees (excluding planted taxa)

Planted trees

Chenopodiaceae Humulus/Cannabis type Plantago lanceolata

Artemisia Brassicaceae

Planted trees

Carpinus

Poaceae

Fraxinus

Quercus

Cerealia

Corylus

Salix Ulmus

Rumex

Betula

Fagus

Herbs

Alnus

Picea

Pinus

Urtica

2000 1900 1800 1700

LPAZ DK7

DK6

Figure 5 Pollen percentage diagram for Lille Vildmose (selected taxa). Grey shading on Fraxinus, Salix, Ulmus, Artemisia, Brassicaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Humulus/Cannabis, Plantago lanceolata and Urtica type curves indicates threefold exaggeration. Full details will be published elsewhere.

Year (AD)

1600 1500 DK5 1400 1300 1200 1100 DK3 1000 50 100 20 20 40 20 20 20 20 20 40 20 20 40 20 DK4

documentary evidence from the East Sussex Weald of southern England, where only the better-manured soils were worked, resulting in a fragmentary pattern of reforestation in the area (Brandon, 1969). The chronological precision of the palaeoecological studies featured in this review has allowed the observation to be made that cereal production at the Auvergene and Butterburn Flow sites began to decline earlier than the Black Death of ad 1347– 52, while the fall in arable agriculture at Garry Bog and Moneyveagh Bog appears to have occurred at, or slightly after, the pandemic. However, without supplementary archaeological or historical sources, it is impossible to say whether the decline in agriculture at the Irish sites was the direct result of the plague. The timing of agricultural decline at the Lille ¨ Vildmose and Sint Odilienberg sites is less clear because of the lower precision of the 14C wiggle-matched age-depth models used in each study. The 14th century bore witness to a number of detrimental events, including the deterioration of climate resulting in the Great Famine of ad 1315–17. This was also a period of constant warfare and political instability, with the Hundred Years War being fought in France from ad 1337 onwards; and the surrounding area of the Butterburn Flow site in northern England was the scene of numerous raids by the Scottish Reivers (James, 2002). These events contributed to the Europewide agrarian crisis that had been occurring since the late 13th century (Dyer, 2000). The huge population loss of the Black Death probably greatly accelerated the decline, resulting in minimum crop production in many areas within a few years following the pandemic. Clear patterns of ecological change and succession on the abandoned arable land are also discernible from the palaeoecological studies. At Butterburn Flow and Lille Vildmose, Rumex (probably R. acetosella), a weed of arable fields, begins to decline from previously high levels at the same time as, or within a few years after, the fall in cereal pollen. The interpretation of P. lanceolata in pollen diagrams can be ambiguous: it has sometimes been interpreted as an indicator

of the recolonization of fallow fields (Behre, 1981). At the ¨ Butterburn Flow and Sint Odilienburg sites, P. lanceolata increased (or remained at high levels) after the decline in cereals, when Poaceae pollen was at high levels, suggesting that it may be regarded as an indicator of pasture at these sites (cf. Jahns, 2005). The fall in land and grain prices resulting from the economic decline and loss of population meant it was more economical to use the abandoned arable land for grazing stock; the shift to pastoral agriculture during the 14th century has been documented across Europe (Vahtola, 2003), including the evidence from Essex described above (Poos, 1991). Many woody species, including pioneers such as Betula, are vulnerable to browsing damage in the early growth stage (Atkinson, 1992; Grubb et al., 1999): the relatively high grazing pressure of domestic livestock may have stalled the succession to scrub and woodland on the abandoned arable fields. In the aftermath of the Black Death pandemic, the rapid and significant loss in population would have meant there were fewer people available for the management of grazing stock. Additionally, it is unclear what the direct effects of the plague were on domestic and wild herbivores. Mass animal die-offs were common during the Black Death, and widespread deaths of sheep and cattle in England may have been caused by the spread of rinderpest and liverfluke, abetted by a lack of shepherds to tend threatened flocks. Contemporary reports from Florence and Uzbekhistan suggest that mass mortalities of domesticated and wild animals may also have been caused directly by the plague itself (Kelly, 2005). Modern scientific studies also show that large herbivores, such as goats and deer, can become infected by the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis. However, these cases are comparatively rare when compared with rodents and domestic cats (Orloski & Lathrop, 2003). This suggests that both domestic herbivores (cattle, sheep and goats) and natural herbivores (rabbits and deer) characteristic of northern Europe during the late Middle Ages would certainly have been susceptible to the plague. However, the net effect of the plague on the natural herbivore population is more debatable. Although rabbits and deer would have been 579

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D. Yeloff and B. van Geel susceptible, the fewer people available for hunting and gamekeeping may have resulted in a relaxation of controls on wild animal populations. A fall in grazing pressure reflected directly by the reduction in domestic grazing stock, and indirectly through the loss of shepherds and land managers, may be reflected by the reductions in pasture (indicated by the decline in P. lanceolata pollen) in the aftermath of the plague. The reduction in both arable and pastoral agricultural intensity following the Black Death precipitated the next stage of succession, with the cover of woody tree species such as Betula and Corylus increasing significantly on abandoned farmland at all sites by the late 14th century, with the exception of Garry and Moneyveagh Bogs. The first appearance of tree saplings may have been even earlier than indicated in the pollen diagrams, given that the common Betula species of northern Europe (Betula pubescens Ehrh. and Betula pendula Roth.) do not commence flowering until the tree is at least 5– 10 years old. Less aggressive colonizers such as Quercus (Quercus petraea Liebl. and Quercus robur L.) and Fagus sylvatica L. do not produce seed until the tree is at least c. 40 and c. 28 years of age, respectively (Grime et al., 1988). By c. ad 1400, the forest cover had reached a peak at all sites (with the exception of Moneyveagh and Garry Bogs), and concomitant with this in the area of the Lille Vildmose, Auvergne and Butterburn Flow sites was a marked decline in Artemisia. The decrease in Artemisia cover may relate to the decline in the cover of open soils associated with agricultural disturbance. Once the agricultural crisis ended, clearance and arable agriculture began to intensify again; the changes in vegetation relating to this can be seen within two centuries after the Black Death (Table 1). As noted in the Introduction, Ruddiman (2003) hypothesized that the reforestation of abandoned farms in western Eurasia following the plague pandemic sequestered enough carbon to account for the observed 14th century minima in CO2 observed in the Antarctic ice-core records from Law and ¨ Taylor Domes (Etheridge et al., 1996; Indermuhle et al., 1999). The anomaly, ranging between )5 and )10 p.p.m., was suggested to account for 14–27 Gt of carbon sequestration in agricultural areas of Eurasia. This level of carbon sequestration amounts to reforestation on 25–45% of agricultural land, and fits comfortably with estimates of mortality due to the Black Death (Ruddiman, 2003, pp. 283–284). However, this review suggests that agricultural decline and reforestation varied
Table 1 End dates of the period of late medieval agricultural decline and woodland regeneration at European sites described in the text.
End date of woodland regeneration phase c. ad 1475 c. 1430 cal. ad c. 1490 cal. ad c. 1530 cal. ad

geographically, and in some areas did not occur at all, making the estimate of a 25–45% increase in forest cover appear unrealistic. Further work to quantitatively reconstruct past land cover, using a number of high-resolution pollen analyses in combination with landscape models (cf. Nielsen & Odgaard, 2005), would be required to confirm this. However, given the paucity of sites with suitable deposits from the 14th century, this may be impractical at the present time. CONCLUSIONS There is strong evidence of agricultural continuity at several sites in Western Europe at the time of the Black Death. The effects on the European rural landscape of the Black Death varied geographically, with major factors probably including the impact of the plague on the local population, and soil quality. At two sites in western and northern Ireland, the late medieval decline in cereal agriculture was probably a direct result of population reduction following the Black Death. In contrast, the decline in cereal production began at sites in Britain and France before the Black Death pandemic of ad 1347–52, and was probably due to the crisis in the agricultural economy, exacerbated by political instability and climatic deterioration. Much of the abandoned arable land was probably exploited for grazing during the period between the decline in cereal farming and the Black Death. In the aftermath of the Black Death, grazing pressure was greatly reduced owing to reductions in the grazing animal population and a shortage of farmers. Vegetation succession on the abandoned grazing land resulted in increased cover by woody tree species, particularly Betula and Corylus, by the late 14th century. Woodland cover was greatest at c. ad 1400, before forest clearance and agriculture increased in intensity. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work constitutes part of the ACCROTELM Project (Abrupt Climate Change Recorded Over The European Land Mass) funded by the European Union 5th Framework programme (contract number EVK2-CT-2002-00166). We thank Michael Williams for advice on reforestation during the Middle Ages and permission to reproduce the Hofgeismar diagram, and Jan van Arkel for help with the diagrams. Two anonymous reviewers are thanked for their constructive comments. REFERENCES Atkinson, M.D. (1992) Betula pendula Roth (B. verrucosa Ehrh.) and B. pubescens Ehrh.. Journal of Ecology, 80, 837– 870. Baillie, M.G.L. (1991) Suck-in and smear: two related chronological problems for the 90s. Journal of Theoretical Archaeology, 2, 12–16. Behre, K.-E. (1981) The interpretation of anthropogenic indicators in pollen diagrams. Pollen et Spores, 23, 225–245.

Site Auvergne ¨ Sint Odilienberg Butterburn Flow Lille Vildmose

Reference Stebich et al. (2005) van Hoof et al. (2006) D.Y. and co-workers (unpublished data) This study

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BIOSKETCHES Dan Yeloff is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Paleoecology and Landscape Ecology at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. His main research interests include the examination of both anthropogenic and natural influences (climate, volcanic ash deposition) on past (Holocene) vegetation change in northern Europe and the Subantarctic. Bas van Geel is a senior palaeoecologist in the Department of Paleoecology and Landscape Ecology at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. His research focuses on two related themes: (1) exploration of the palaeoecological indicator value of microfossils and macrofossils in fine-resolution palynological studies of lake deposits, fens, bogs and archaeological sites, and (2) 14 C wiggle-match dating, and the study of the solar forcing of past climate change, using D14C as a proxy of solar activity.

Editor: John Birks

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