Research Soils, sediments and landscape history considers soils and sediments as historical narratives that define land resource utilisation and organisation by early societies together with their environmental and landscape consequences.
These narratives are elucidated through innovative theoretical frameworks of landscape that give new understanding of the Anthropocene together with innovative techniques in thin section micromorphology, soil biomarker analyses and modelling applied to anthrosols, podzols, andosols and archaeo-sediments.
In doing so, historical depth is given to long-term human interactions with environmental processes; new understanding of ‘completed human ecodynamics experiments of the past’ in relation to sustainability and resilience emerges; contribution is made to discussions on cultural and national identities as they relate to environments and landscapes, and foundations for natural and cultural heritage resources management are provided.
The scope of this work is inter-disciplinary and international with current research programmes focussed in -
- North Atlantic region (including Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Faeroes, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles).Current programmes include the emergence and formation of early fishing sites (supported by UK AHRC); landscapes of Norse - indigenous interaction (supported by the UK Leverhulme Trust - Footprints on the edge of Thule programme); farm resilience in marginal environments (supported by the US National Science Foundation, Human and Social Ecodynamics programme); soil and field system inheritance (supported by the Shetland Amenity Trust); the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site (supported by Historic Scotland).
- South and West Asia (Sri Lanka, Nepal and Iran). Current programmes include the use of water in early urban hinterlands programmes, Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka) and Sialk - Kashan (Iran) (supported by AHRC and Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada); modern human settlement in tropical South Asia, evidence from late Pleistocene-early Holocene rockshelter sites in Sri Lanka (supported by the British Academy); protecting and preserving the natal landscape, Lumbini, Nepal (supported by UNESCO).
- Rescue archaeology and 'preservation by record'. Working in UK locations where the soils and sedimentary record in archaeological sites and landcapes is threatened by development (supported by development funding).
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Enhancing Informal Learning Through Citizen Science
PI: Professor Richard Edwards
Funded by: The Wellcome Trust
Geoarchaeology of tool-bearing, middle to late Pleistocene fluviatile sediments (Iranamadu Formation) in Sri Lanka
PI: Professor Ian Simpson
Funded by: The Carnegie Trust
Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction of Mesolithic Orkney evidence from Stronsay
PI: Dr Eileen Tisdall
Funded by: Orkney College