Environmental reconstruction of a later prehistoric palaeochannel record from Burrs Countryside Park, Bury, Greater Manchester

David Smith, Mark Fletcher, Katie Head, Wendy Smith, Andy Howard

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The results from an analysis of pollen, insect and plant macrofossil remains from the shallow wood peat fill of a palaeochannel associated with hummocky (deglacial) sediments infilling the valley of the River Irwell at Walmersley known locally as Burrs Countryside Park, Bury, Greater Manchester (NGR SD 796 127) are presented. Radiocarbon dates from the deposit provide an age range from 1310 to 1040 cal. BC to 920 to 800 cal. BC. The environmental record indicates that during the Middle and Late Bronze Age the valley floor was covered by carr woodland consisting mainly of alder and hazel, including areas of open water. Insect and pollen remains indicate that mixed deciduous woodland (birch, elm, beech and ash) was present on the surrounding slopes. Although non-arboreal pollen remains low and may merely indicate woodland edge grassland communities, increases in the percentage of oak and birch pollen over time may reflect small-scale clearance of the alder carr in the valley bottom. Alternatively, if the pollen diagram is merely recording a decline in alder pollen at the top of the profile, this could also explain the increase in the relative proportion of other arboreal taxa. There are no taxa present directly indicative of human activities associated with the nearby Castle Steads hillfort. The palaoenvironmental results from this site appear to match those for the Greater Manchester area and wider north-west region in general, suggesting that there was a mosaic of environments present in the Bronze Age, with some areas cleared of woodland earlier than others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-31
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • pollen
  • Greater Manchester
  • Bronze Age
  • palaeoenvironments
  • insects


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