News

    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 sricher@worcestershire.gov.uk 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, http://www.paldat.org/

    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.

    Strictly Necessary

    These cookies are required for our website to operate and include items such as whether or not to display this pop-up box or your session when logging in to the website. These cookies cannot be disabled.

    Performance

    We use 3rd party services such as Google Analytics to measure the performance of our website. This helps us tailor the site content to our visitors needs.

    Functional

    From time to time, we may use cookies to store key pieces of information to make our site easier for you to use. Examples of this are remembering selected form options to speed up future uses of them. These cookies are not necessary for the site to work, but may enhance the browsing experience.

    Targeting

    We may use advertising services that include tracking beacons to allow us to target our visitors with specific adverts on other platforms such as search or social media. These cookies are not required but may improve the services we offer and promote.

    Change Settings

    Welcome. You can control how we use cookies and 3rd party services below

    Change Settings Accept
    Learn how we use cookies