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Keywords:

  • bog surface wetness;
  • burning;
  • Holocene;
  • New Forest;
  • palaeoclimate

ABSTRACT

A combined pollen, charcoal and climatic record is presented from Cranes Moor, southern England, covering the period c. 10 500–5850 cal a BP. It is shown that the occurrence of burning is closely related to natural processes, including prevailing climatic conditions and vegetation composition. These burning events are often linked to an increase in the summer moisture deficit, implying that the timing of burning events is linked to periods of warmer/drier climate during the Holocene Thermal Maximum (c. 11 000–5000 cal a BP). These events play an important role in the vegetation composition and succession around the site. The nature of the burning recorded at the site shows strong similarities with other records from northern Europe. This study throws caution on suggestions that fire in the Holocene record from areas such as the British Isles is linked only to human activity, and enhances the possibility that natural fire incidence played an important role in natural woodland structure dynamics.