By M.H. Dinnin, N.J. Whitehouse and R.A. Lindsay.

In June 1997, English Nature announced proposals to denotify parts of Thorne and Hatfield Moors Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This paper is based upon a submission made recently to English Nature, commissioned by the Peatland Campaign Consortium (PCC) and the Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum ('the Forum'). Part of this submission examined the palaeoecological and archaeological significance of these sites, the current legislative protection for the wetland palaeoecological and archaeological archive and how the loss of SSSI status will affect the protection of this archive. We await the outcome of English Nature's (EN) decision, which will be taken in December 1997; both the PCC and the Forum have objected to the proposal, as they are convinced that insufficient and inconclusive scientific evidence has been examined by EN. A number of other organisations have objected to the proposal, including the Environment Agency.

Location map of the Humberhead Level SSSI peatlands.

Although both sites have a long history of exploitation, their continued value to nature conservation has become increasingly recognised through a series of investigations and actions which began in earnest more than 30 years ago. The two Moors have been much studied by past and present staff and students at the University of Sheffield, through the endeavours of Brain Wheeler, Jane Smart, Russ Money (Dept. of Animal and Plant Sciences) and Louise Heathwaite (Dept. of Geography), who have examined the present ecology, regeneration and hydrology of Thorne Moors. Paul Buckland, Gretel Boswijk, Tessa Roper, Peter Skidmore, Mark Dinnin and Nicki Whitehouse (Dept. of Archaeology & Prehistory) have examined the palaeoecological significance of Thorne and Hatfield Moors. Thorne Moors, in particular, has been the focus of much research and conservation activity over this period, but recently its slightly smaller neighbour, Hatfield Moors, has begun to emerge as a remarkably important site in its own right.

Despite the presence of commercial peat extraction on the two sites, they were both afforded increasingly extensive SSSI protection between the 1960s and the 1980s. As a result, by 1990, the site boundaries had been drawn to include at least the majority of the peat mass for the two sites. However, by this time, commercial peat extraction methods had changed and the 'mobile mosaic' of bog vegetation which had persisted alongside commercial operations began quite rapidly to be removed from some parts, leaving extensive areas of bare peat. Such areas nevertheless continue to make a substantial contribution to the overall scientific interest of the site.

In the mid 1990s, an agreement was reached between the commercial operators, Levingtons and English Nature, about the future of Thorne and Hatfield Moors and other raised bog sites then owned by Levingtons. Although the details of this agreement have never been made public, English Nature has assured conservation bodies that the agreement secures the long-term future of both Thorne and Hatfield Moors.

Figure 2. Photograph showing vegetation regeneration in long-abandoned peat cuttings (hand-dug) on Thorne Moore Nature reserve, on the southern part of Thorne Moors, managed by English Nature.

Current proposal to de-notify.
Conservation bodies view with considerable dismay the latest proposals from English Nature -- namely to remove substantial areas on both Thorne and Hatfield Moors from statutory protection. After 30 years of progress, this is inevitably seen as a serious step backwards. Indeed, once this particular step has been taken, it is unlikely that English Nature will be in a position to re-notify the sites again in a few years' time. The areas proposed for identification, certainly on Hatfield Moors, are those which have the deepest peat on site and; although stripped of vegetation, these are the areas which are the most important from an archaeological and palaeoecological point of view.

Perhaps there are good strategic reasons for English Nature's proposals; they might argue that in the longer-term the entirety of both sites may be more secure as a result of this action. Unfortunately, although, English Nature has consulted a range of bodies to seek comments on the proposal they have provided no supporting material to demonstrate the longer-term benefits (or even existence) of such a strategy. English Nature has justified the proposals on the basis that:

a) the areas proposed for deletion are not significant to the hydrology of the remainder;

b) the areas proposed for deletion contain no scientific interest.

As to other aspects of the scientific interest, no evidence is presented except to state that the areas proposed for deletion are "devoid of vegetation". It is difficult to believe that English Nature, with its very clear legal remit towards fauna, flora, geology and geomorphology, has not considered the many other aspects of scientific interest associated with raised bogs in general and with these raised bogs in particular.

From a palaeoenvironmental point of view, Thorne and Hatfield Moors are arguably some of the most important Holocene palaeoenvironmental sites in Britain and as such are internationally renowned.

The Forum and PCC have also commissioned a report by Hans Joosten (1997), to examine the hydrological evidence; this is not produced here, but is being prepared for publication.

The Humberhead Peatlands.
Thorne and Hatfield Moors constitute a total area of some 3000 hectares of raised bog peatland, located within the Humberhead Levels, which consist of the remnants of what was once an extensive complex of raised mires and other wetlands. The Moors are the two largest surviving examples of lowland raised mire peatland in England. The Levels are a meeting place of northern and southern types of vegetation (Heaver and Eversham 1991), so a variety of species which normally do not mix can be found here. They are also different in character to other lowland raised mires elsewhere in Britain, and one of the main reasons for the sites' importance.

"The two moors can be considered the only truly Continental raised mires in Britain with stronger affinities with the Baltic lowlands than with Somerset, Cumbria or Wales" (Heaver and Eversham 1991: 76).

They are also notable for having developed in an area of low precipitation (c.600 mm/yr), warm climate and high evapotranspiration potential (510 mm/yr). Indeed, they receive the minimum amount of precipitation considered necessary for ombrotrophic peat growth (Money 1995). For these reasons, the Moors have been recognised as particularly sensitive sites for palaeoenvironmental research (Smith 1985; Whitehouse et al. 1997), compared with many other sites from the more oceanic west of Britain (cf. Barber 1981; 1985). They also provide a wealth of information about the biogeography of numerous species (Eversham et al. 1995), making the palaeoenvironmental importance of these sites unparalleled.

The peat on the Moors has built up because in the past the permanently high water table and acidic conditions inhibited biological decomposition. The peat archive provides a three dimensional record of the plants and animals that once lived on the peat surface and the way in which the mire has developed in response to environmental change over time. Variations in the plant and animal components of the peat archive reflect changing environmental conditions, such as mire surface wetness and nutrient status. Since the main water input and several of the principle outputs of the bog water balance are influenced by climate (e.g. temperature, precipitation and humidity) the peat archive also preserves a proxy record of climate change. Material from beyond the margins of the bog may also be incorporated into the peat archive as a result of having been aerially transported or carried by water onto the peat surface. Thus, the peat archive contains a record of changes in the wider landscape beyond the peatland. It may also contain important archaeological information; Turner and Briggs (1986: 145) argue that this area is the most important in England for bog burials.

Figure 3.

Photograph showing milling fields on Thorne Moors, with underlying pro-glacial Lake Humber clay silts shown piled up adjacent to the milling drains.

Thorne and Hatfield Moors: different sites.
The palaeoenvironmental record indicates that Thorne and Hatfield Moors developed from very different starting points, in different ways and at different rates. This led to the individual characters which are still evident today. In addition, the different substrates beneath the sites has influenced their character.

Thorne Moors is largely underlain by the pro-glacial Lake Humber clay silts. Hatfield Moors is underlain by Devensian glacio-fluvial sands and gravels and an aeolian late Glacial/early Holocene sand dune system (Gaunt, 1994), a unique situation in Britain. A Devensian glacial moraine is also contained in the middle of the bog. As a result, Hatfield Moors has a much stronger sandy heath component within both its modern and fossil flora and fauna compared with Thorne Moors. Hatfield Moors has traditionally been viewed as an essentially more degraded version of Thorne Moors and the better survival of Thorne Moors seems to have been at the detriment of Hatfield Moors.

Palaeoenvironmental research on Thorne and Hatfield Moors.
There has been a long history of research into the peats of Thorne and, to a lesser extent, Hatfield Moors. Work has included the study of plant pollen and macroscopic remains, tree ring sequences and fossil insects (Erdtman 1928; Pigott 1956; Smith 1958; Turner 1962; Buckland 1979; Smith 1985; Whitehouse 1993; 1997; Roper 1993; 1996; Whitehouse et al. 1997; Boswijk forthcoming). The most significant palaeoenvironmental research results are summarised below:

Peat began to develop on both Moors about 4500 years ago.
Radiocarbon dates from the base of peat on Thorne and Hatfield Moors indicate that peat began to develop about 4500 years ago. The handful of basal radiocarbon dates from Thorne Moors indicate that peat developed first in the northern part of the present Moors and spread south-eastwards (Smith 1985). This is further supported by pine dendrochronological evidence which indicates the progressive south-eastern displacement of pine forest growing on the ombrotrophic mire margin (Boswijk forthcoming).

Parts of the Moors retain a peat archive extending into the medieval period.
Although peat continued to accumulate up until at least the sixteenth century, peat cutting and drainage have destroyed the peat archive spanning the historic period over much of both Moors. Nonetheless, in some areas medieval peat is preserved and remains a rare palaeoenvironmental record: as much of this part of the archive has been destroyed over lowland Britain, there are no other comparable sites in eastern England.

Thorne Moors developed in a markedly different way from Hatfield Moors.
It is thought that prior to paludification and peat growth, relatively undisturbed mixed deciduous forest covered Thorne Moors. Mire developed by succession from minerotrophic fen, via mesotrophic poor fen to ombrotrophic and oligotrophic bog (Smith 1985). In contrast, prior to peat growth on Hatfield Moors, heath and pine forest covered much of the landsurface and mesotrophic and ombrotrophic peats appear to have developed over the original landsurface (Smith 1985). However, the most recent fossil insect work suggests that locally there may have been an initial fen phase on the southern side of Hatfield Moors (Whitehouse unpubl.).

The pollen record from different sites within each Moor shows marked differences and there are significant differences between pollen records from the two Moors.
Pollen records from the peats provide a detailed, high resolution record of vegetation changes in the region during the last 4,500 years. Smith (1985) had great difficulty in providing summary "regional pollen assemblage zones" for the Humberhead Levels based on his results from the two Moors because the pollen signals from individual palaeoecological sites were often distinctly different, reflecting the varying origins of the two peatlands.

The peat archives record the complex succession of peat-building Sphagnum mosses which vary between sample sites.
Peat macrofossil analysis from both Moors indicates a complex sequence of Sphagnum moss successions. There is a marked difference in the Sphagnum moss succession on different parts of Thorne and Hatfield Moors. These differences emphasise the complexity of mire response to environmental conditions and the inadequacy of limited reference points.

The peats contain fossils of numerous beetles now extinct in Britain and highlight the continental (Baltic) character of the two bogs.
The fossil insect record preserved within the peats of Thorne and Hatfield Moors contains at least 16 species of beetle that have become extinct in Britain since the later prehistoric period and ongoing research is adding to the list (Buckland and Dinnin 1993; Whitehouse 1997; unpubl.; Whitehouse et al. 1997). The majority of the extinctions are associated with ancient woodland habitats and especially native pine forests. Many of the rare and nationally extinct beetle species found in the peats exhibit a continental distribution and are not found in more oceanic western parts of Britain and NW Europe.

The two Moors are apparently very sensitive to changes in climate.
Five recurrence horizons, reflecting shifts from drier to wetter bog surface conditions, can be traced in peats on the two Moors (Smith, 1985). These are attributed to changes to a cooler and wetter climate during the later prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon periods, perhaps enhanced by phases of sea-level rise. However, mires respond to changes in the water balance in a complex manner and changes in bog surface wetness are not synchronous across the individual peatlands. Recent work on modern bogs suggests that bog hydrology is even more complex than previously suspected (cf. Glaser et al. 1997): the climatic signal preserved within peats is clouded by that arising from processes within the bog. Thus, lateral continuity of the peat stratigraphy across all parts of a bog is required to identify a climatic signal from the record.

Figure 4.

Large bog oak found on Thorne Moors, which has been sampled for dendrochronological analysis.

The tree-ring chronologies from fossil trees on the two Moors are nationally important.
The tree-ring chronologies from buried pines and oaks not only provide information about the timing of forest development on the two Moors but are also nationally important in terms of establishing dating chronologies. The sequences from Thorne and Hatfield Moors strengthen and extend regional and national chronologies which are used for dating archaeological timbers (and therefore evidence for past human activity) elsewhere in the UK. The successful correlation of the pine and oak chronologies on Thorne and Hatfield Moors, acheived for the first time in England, potentially extends the application of dendrochronological dating (Boswijk forthcoming).

The moors have a proven archaeological record but current land use reduces the archaeological visibility.
A recent survey identified the Humberhead Levels as the richest area for bog bodies in Britain (Turner and Briggs 1986; Turner and Scaife 1995). Five excellently preserved bodies have come from Hatfield Chase and Thorne Waste, of which the two Moors once formed a major part. Antiquarian sources refer to a trackway traversing Hatfield Moors linking Lindholme to adjacent drier ground. During the 1970's a Bronze Age wooden trackway was discovered on the western side of Thorne Moors (Buckland 1979). Only a short section was excavated but a detailed palaeoenvironmental study was carried out. A series of mainly prehistoric finds and lithic scatters have been found in areas that were formerly covered by peat bog but have been reclaimed from Thorne and Hatfield Moors during the last three centuries (e.g. Nun Moors; Van de Noort and Fenwick 1997). It is likely that further remains occur in and beneath the peat on the surviving peatlands; the current surface milling technique adopted severely impedes the recognition of organic archaeological remains exposed on the surface (Dinnin 1994; 1997).

The palaeoenvironmental archive provides important information for nature conservation.
There is a general lack of scientific information about how peatlands work at the ecosystem level, as opposed to the habitat/species level. Palaeoecology provides this overview. The palaeoenvironmental record provides the only opportunity to examine natural processes on a timescale longer than is possible in real-time studies. It also enables an assessment of the long-term impact of past human activities on the bogs (e.g. renewal of peat accumulation in abandoned peat workings, Smart et al. 1986). Since it is English Nature's intention to attempt restoration of cut-over areas (N.B. you cannot recreate the archive once it has been destroyed!), the peat record is the only source of information recording the processes which led to the development of these bogs.

Retaining upstanding blocks of peat as representative palaeoenvironmental archives is unviable.
Dept of the Environment (DoE) (1994: 47) guidelines suggest that

"access to the peat archive does not necessarily require the presevation of entire bog sequences...archival requirements might be met by retention of substantial uncut blocks within peat cutting complexes."

This is difficult to justify on two grounds. Firstly, the results of research from Thorne and Hatfield Moors outlined above, together with that at other mire sites in the UK and Europe, indicate that there is great spatial and temporal variation in mire response to environmental stimuli. This means that there is in effect no such thing as a representative section. Secondly, the retention of upstanding reference blocks of uncut peat is practically difficult on hydrological grounds. The maintenance of the mire system as a whole is the optimal way to preserve the peat archive in perpetuity.

Stockpile of Scots pine on edge of milling field, Thorne Moors.

Figure 5.

Consequences of the loss of SSSI on parts of Thorne and Hatfield Moors: the palaeoenvironmental case.
Currently, there is no secure legislative protection which deals specifically with the peat archive in Britain, although SSSI status does provide some measure of protection, particularly when the guidelines are interpreted in a considered, scientific manner. The joint statement of intent for the conservation of the natural and archaeological environment issued by English Heritage and English Nature recognises the coincidence of interests and the need for partnership on management of land with SSSI protection. Removal of SSSI status means that English Nature are no longer obliged to consult English Heritage over proposed land management changes. The loss of the SSSI status on parts of Thorne and Hatfield Moors would effectively remove any protection of the palaeoecological archive.

Figure 6.

Detail of charred Scots pine, Thorne Moors.

Guidelines for the Selection of SSSI's.
In England, English Nature, the Government's nature conservation agency, is the statutory body charged with responsibility towards the conservation of sites of biological and geological/geomorphological importance.

Selection of Biological SSSI's.
The Guidelines for the selection of Biological SSSI's recognise the importance of the palaeoecological record. The supplement to the guidelines specifically for bogs (point 1.6) states that:

"Ombrotrophic mires have great value to Holocene ecological and archaeological studies".

Point 2.6 states that:

"... the bog archive...has become increasingly used in international studies of climate change. The conservation of this resource is particularly important in the light of current concern about global warming."

The importance of the palaeoecological archive is clearly acknowledged within the guidelines as part of the scientific interest of a raised mire; one could therefore argue that this makes the importance of the palaeoecological archive part of the selection criteria of SSSI's.

With regard to Hatfield Moors, English Nature proposes to denotify areas of unvegetated peat as it "has no special interest", even though English Nature's own guidelines categorically state that peat deposits have great value to Holocene ecological and archaeological studies. There is ample evidence presented here and in the cited publications of the importance of the palaeoecological archive preserved at these sites, yet English Nature have failed to acknowledge this evidence. To state that there is "no scientific interest" is wrong: the archive forms part of the scientific interest of a site and as such adds to or enhances the scientific importance of the site. By failing to notify the bare areas of peat at the site English Nature is effectively throwing away part of its scientific interest. Point 4.2 of the Guidelines state that:

"... even if the damage is considered to be severe... [m]any sites retain great intrinsic biological and scientific value".

Whilst the botanical importance of areas devoid of vegetation may be questioned, their scientific interest cannot be questioned, since their palaeoenvironmental significance remains. The fact that the peats of the Moors, including areas proposed for denotification, have been the subject of at least five palaeoenvironmental doctoral research projects, of which two are ongoing, demonstrates that they are of scientific importance.

Geological/Geomorphological SSSI's & RIGS.
In England, English Nature is charged with responsibility towards the conservation of sites of natural and geological/geomorphological importance. Since the peat archive is part of the geological record, albeit amongst the most recent sediments, it should therefore fall within the remit of English Nature.

English Nature recently launched its RIGS scheme (Regionally Important Geological/Geomorphological Sites) which includes a set of guidelines for assessing and evaluating sites (Harley 1994). Applying the RIGS evaluation criteria to the proposed areas for denotification indicates that these areas should qualify within this category. The site demonstrates important sedimentary features, such as recurrence surfaces, a buried prehistoric forest, a Late Glacial dune system and terminal Devensian moraine (Hatfield Moors), mire hummock and pool features. The site is also important in terms of stratigraphic correlation; this is demonstrated by the radiocarbon dated chronology for regional vegetation and climatic changes which have been used to correlate vegetational changes throughout the Humberhead Levels. Recurrence surfaces within the peat of Thorne and Hatfield Moors have been correlated with continental peatlands (Smith 1985). The sites are unique in terms of correlations between pine and oak chronologies in mainland Britain and Europe (Boswijk forthcoming; Chambers et al. 1997). The sites are especially important for fossil insect species and assemblages, preserving the richest primary forest beetle assemblage recorded from Britain (Whitehouse 1997), as discussed above. The site is therefore important palaeoecologically, preserving an important record of mire development, regional landscape change and Holocene climate, in a climatically marginal part of Britain, as well as being arguably the most important sites in terms of Holocene fossil insect palaeoecology in the UK.

Thus, English Nature's own criteria highlight the geological and geomorphological importance of the sites.

English Heritage's position.
English Heritage is the government's statutory advisor on archaeology and the historic environment; it advises the Secretary of State for Culture on sites recommended for Scheduling. Scheduling applies to culturally formed structures or cultural deposits formed/created as the result of human activities. Unfortunately, English Heritage is unable to act upon those sites where the effects of cultural activity are incorporated or embedded within largely natural deposits, such as the palaeoecological archive, even when they have considerable archaeological relevance and interest. Even where such a resource is identified, the tendency is towards the 'scheduling' of the monument to its defined boundaries. This inadequate for peatlands and other wetlands that are inevitably affected by more distant activities occurring on adjacent land (e.g. peat cutting and drainage [Coles 1995]). The heritage value of indirect palaeoenvironmental evidence for human activity and an unproven (i.e. potentially undisturbed and well preserved) archaeological resource is not accommodated within the present legislation. It is only through disturbance and irreversible damage that most wetland archaeological sites come to light and become available for statutory protection. In many cases, the archaeological resource may be so damaged that it no longer merits Scheduling. There therefore exists a paradox: only when the archaeological resource is harmed or eroded is it revealed, by which time it is too late to protect any remaining archaeology. The inadequacy of this approach in such areas has been highlighted in a recent report commissioned by English Heritage and an 'area of interest' approach is recommended(Coles 1995).

Figure 7.

Painting of Temnochila coerulea, Westw., fossil insect "nationally extinct", known to occur only in deposits from Thorne Moors. Painting by Peter Skidmore.

Statement of intent for the conservation of the natural and archaeological environment.
This joint statement of intent issued by English Nature and English Heritage recognises the coincidence of interests between the two organisations and the need for partnership. The statement establishes procedures to ensure that the respective interests of the two organisations are taken into account in the management of land. Removal of SSSI status will mean that English Nature are no longer obliged to consult English Heritage over proposed land management changes.

Figure 8.

Modern distribution of Scolytus ratzeburgi Jan. and Tecmnochila coerulea Westw. with 17 degrees July mean isotherm. These species were recovered as fossils within the same context, in deposits of c. 4,000-3,000 B.P. on Thorne Moors; Scolytus ratzeburgi has also been found in fossil deposits on Hadfield Moors. The distribution illustrates some of the current problems in the interpretation of such data. For example, do these distributions reflect variation in oceanicity versus continentality in the late Holocene climate? Note: actual species distribution is much more discontinuous. Question marks indicate a lack of information, rather than known absence of species.
This drawing has been published previously in Whitehouse et al., 1997. Drawing: Philip I. Buckland.

Humberhead Levels Natural Area.
The Natural Areas Profile for The Humberhead Levels Natural Area recently published by English Nature (1994) states that an objective is to:

"Promote, secure and enhance the geological, palaeontological and archaeological archive found in the Levels."

Denotification of SSSI status on peatlands that are currently part of the Humberhead Peatlands SSSIs would appear to directly contradict not only the actual title of the SSSI (i.e. peatlands) but also the expressed objectives of the Natural Area Profile and weaken the status of the Holocene archive in general. The importance of the palaeoecological archive has been recognised by EN in other contexts where important palynological sites have been designated (e.g. Tadcaster Mere and Roos Bog).

Recent developments in Scotland.
Despite the reluctance within England, particularly by English Nature, to designate SSSI sites on palaeoecological grounds, there has been more recent recognition that the palaeoecological issue is not being fully addressed within the SSSI guidelines. The Second Report of the independent Advisory Committee to Scottish Natural Heritage (the Government's statutory body for nature conservation in Scotland) (1997) suggests that the qualifying features set out in the 'Guidelines for the Selection of Biological SSSI's' fail to convey fully a site's interest. They go on to say (point 16) that:

"Members of the Committee consider that SSSI notifications should go beyond the straightforward reconciliation of site features with the published site selection criteria. For example, there are many reasons for conserving mires … and perhaps more fundamentally, palaeoecological … with climate change a topical issue, examinations of layered accumulations of pollen and human artefacts might provide evidence of the responses of plant assemblages to changes of weather in the past…The Committee … considers that there would be merit in the JNCC reviewing and possibly amending site selection criteria."(authors' bold).

The Committee's function is to interpret the guidelines and advise on the scientific merits of site selection. The Advisory Committee is thus an objective, expert arbiter about the interpretation of the Guidelines, at least in Scotland. The significance of this recommendation is far reaching and one which English Nature at least appears to have failed to appreciate, given that they provide an objective, expert opinion.


The case of Thorne and Hatfield Moors SSSI highlights the very real conflicts which can arise between what is carried out in the name of 'nature conservation' and the needs of archaeology and palaeoecology. It also highlights the need for much greater and closer liaison between English Nature and English Heritage. In the meantime, the precious archive of these peatlands continues to be placed into grow bags and allowed to desiccate. One is left with the question "Who cares for the Holocene?" The answer, at the moment, would appear to be "No one".

The front page of The Guardian (24th November, 1997) leads with the headline:

"The guardians of nature: "secretive, defensive and turning a blind eye to destruction….",

as a result of a damming report compiled by the Worldwide Fund for Nature: surely it is time for all those involved in the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage to make a stand.

On the 2nd December 1997, the following Press Release was issued by English Nature:

"Speaking today after a meeting of English Nature's Council, its Chairman, the Earl of Cranbrook, said that, having considered all the relevant scientific evidence, the SSSI boundaries of Thorne and Hatfield Moors would not be amended".

This was due to the fact that Council had:

"received an amplified report from the Institute of Hydrology and other evidence that now clarifies that the areas of uncertainty are greater than had been indicated earlier. In the light of the full report, Council has decided not to proceed with the proposed denotifications. The effect in both cases is to leave the SSSI boundary as it is".

This report forms part of that "other evidence". However, lest this decision lead to complacency, it will not stop peat mining on Thorne and Hatfield moors - SSSI denotification does not affect existing planning permissions. The destruction of peatland sites such as these is driven by the market for peat - consumers must choose peat alternatives or accept the ultimate responsibility for the destruction of these sites.

Particular thanks to Gretel Boswijk at the University of Sheffield Dendrochronology Laboratory for access to unpublished information and comments upon various drafts of this report; also to Jennifer Hillam, Ian Tyres and Kathy Groves, of the University of Sheffield Dendrochronology Laboratory. Paul Buckland, University of Sheffield, for comments on the draft of the paper. In addition, the following people provided information: Morag Milne (SNH); Richard Morris (CBA); Rob Stoneman (SWT).

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About the Authors

Dr. Mark Dinnin is Lecturer in Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Sussex. Research interests include palaeoecology and landscape change during the late Holocene, from a fossil insect perspective. Other interests include wetlands and more specifically wetland development in the Humber basin during the Holocene and the conservation of natural and heritage resources. For another profile, click here.

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Nicki Whitehouse is a fourth year PhD student at the Dept. of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield. Her research interests focus on Holocene wetland landscape development and change, from a palaeoecological perspective, using a palaeoentomological approach. Her research currently concentrates on the Humberhead Levels peatlands and floodplains. Other interests include examining natural and cultural changes which have affected Holocene woodlands and their associated invertebrate faunas, as well as conservation issues surrounding wetlands. Nicki is secretary and co-chair of the Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum and a member of the Steering Committee of the Mires Research Group, affiliated to the British Ecological Society.

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Richard Lindsay graduated from the University of East Anglia in 1975, and worked for 15 years as the national peatland specialist for the Nature Conservancy Council, then for 4 years as peatland specialist to Scottish Natural Heritage. Since leaving there in 1996 he has circumnavigated the globe, working with peatland conservation issues, and is now Head of Wildlife Conservation at the University of East London. For 10 years he has been Chairman of the International Mire Conservation Group, which is the network of peatland specialist around the world who advise their own governments on peatland conservation issues. He is particularly interested in survey and classification of mire systems for conservation purposes.

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© Mark Dinnin, Nicki Whitehouse and Richard Lindsay 1997

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