The Original Archives & Historic Environment Record desks are closed until further notice due to the current public health situation. The Hive and our Self Service area are currently open but may close at short notice. Please check before travelling.

Opening hours are being reviewed on a daily basis, in light of staff shortages and government announcements and we will post updates through our media channels.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by these changes and appreciate your understanding at this time.


    What can we learn from pollen grains? Introducing the work of a Palynologist

    • 17th February 2014

    A little over a month ago I started working in the Finds and Environment team for Worcestershire Archaeology, so I thought is was about time that I came on here and introduced myself properly!

    My name is Suzi Richer and I am a palynologist. Unfortunately, that’s one of those obscure titles that can often cause people to say, ‘Huh? What’s that?’

    Suzi coring for samples

    Basically, I examine pollen grains that have been preserved in waterlogged deposits, like ditches, ponds, peat, moats, wells or palaeochannels. From the pollen grains I can tell which trees and plants were growing at a specific point in the past, this then allows me to provide an environmental context for archaeological sites.

    Depending on the site and the types of pollen that I come across, I can also get an idea of what types of activity were occurring in the area too. This is especially useful if the activity didn’t leave much in the way of structural or material remains. For example, I can tell:

    ·         if a landscape was deforested (I see a decline in tree pollen),

    ·         if the site was in an agricultural area (I see cereal pollen grains),

    ·         if an activity like hemp or flax retting was occurring (I see lots of pollen grains from hemp/flax, usually from a site where there was a body of water, such as a pond or a stream. See Liz Pearson’s work with the Young Archaeologists Club for more information about retting flax.

    I can be contacted on if you have any pollen-related questions. For instance, if you are part of a local archaeology group, community group or if you would just like to know a little more about what pollen can tell you, I’d love to hear from you.

    Anthemis arvensis pollen grain. Image courtesy of the Society for the Promotion of Palynological Research in Austria,

    Alternatively, our interactive Touch History table on Level 2 in The Hive lets you discover for yourself how pollen grains and other types of environmental evidence, like animal bones, seeds and shells can help us to unravel past environments – come and have a play!

    Comments are closed.

    Related news

    • 18th August 2017
    Archaeology Trainees – WAAS Receives Another Accolade

    We recently received another accolade as were awarded a ‘highly commended’ in the recent Archaeology Training Forum Awards for our archaeology traineeships. To encourage the development of new archaeologists and organisations to provide opportunities for new recruits to develop their skills and careers, the Chartered Institute of Field Archaeologists are looking to help bridge the...

    • 11th August 2017
    Stanley Baldwin Exhibition

    Get up close to one of the famous Despatch Boxes held aloft by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a one day exhibition about Stanley Baldwin 2017 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Stanley Baldwin, the three time Prime Minister from Worcestershire. To coincide with this we will be display documents from his...