and geomorphic response to rapid climatic change during the Last
Glacial-Interglacial Transition (LGIT ca. 18-8ka BP) in the Vale of Pickering.
This research project, run conjunction with private business partners
Hanson Aggregates, is tasked with exploring abrupt climate change during the Last
Glacial to Interglacial transition (LGIT ca. 18-8ka BP) at Wykeham Quarry,
within the Vale of Pickering, in northeast England.
The Vale of Pickering is an area of international significance in
relation to archaeological, glaciological and palaeoenvironmental research
throughout the LGIT. The Vale was partially glaciated at the end of the last
Ice Age and the withdrawal of ice during warming produced a landscape composed
of lakes and gravel ridges exploited by plants, animals and humans. One such
lake (palaeolake Flixton) contains some of the earliest evidence of Mesolithic
human occupation in the British Isles (Star Carr). Assessing how the landscape and
environment evolved during this period of abrupt climatic change is therefore
critical in order to understand the context in which early humans were able to
Wykeham Quarry is situated in a key locality within the Vale, proximal
to the suite of archaeological sites around palaeolake Flixton (ca. 2 miles
northwest of Star Carr) and within the maximum ice limits of the Last Glacial
Maximum. Thus the sediments preserved at the site are likely to provide a
detailed record of variations in geomorphic processes, environmental conditions
and potentially the presence of human activity throughout the LGIT.
This research project addresses several key research questions:
What processes have led to the formation and preservation of the LGIT sediments
What climatic, environmental and geomorphic
variations are reflected in the sediment sequences, and how do these compare
regional models of the magnitude and timing of past environmental change?
Which geographic locations at Wykeham Quarry are
most likely to preserve archaeological remains, can these be correlated with
other archaeological finds in the Vale and further afield?
In order to answer these questions the following methods are being used:
GIS, LIDAR mapping, identifying geomorphic features
(e.g. morainic features and palaeochannels) associated with the sedimentary
Comprehensive fieldwork utilising auger surveys,
powered coring, and detailed logging of sedimentary sequences.
Laboratory analysis of sedimentary sequences in
order to: quantitatively reconstruct past environmental conditions via: pollen,
plant macrofossil, charcoal, chironomid, coleopteran, thin section
micromorphology, grain size, and stable isotope analyses.
We aim to generate precise chronological frameworks
via tephrochronology, radiocarbon dating combined using Bayesian statistics.