Royal Society Publishing

Studies in the Vegetational History of Scotland. IV. Pine Stumps in Scottish Blanket Peats

Hilary H. Birks


The palaeoecology of six Scottish blanket peat profiles containing pine stumps was investigated by means of peat stratigraphy, pollen analysis, and radiocarbon dating. In addition, several other pine and birch remains from peat in other areas of Scotland were radiocarbon dated. Three peat profiles were selected in each of two contrasting regions. The Cairngorm area is within the distributional area of native pine today and pollen analysis has shown that pine has been a major component of the upland forest since about 7000 B.P. The Galloway region in southwest Scotland is south of the native pine area, and pollen analysis has shown that pine has never been a major component of the upland forest. Despite the limitations of the methods used, it has been established that there were several different circumstances for the growth and death of the pines studied, and that their ages are asynchronous within and between the two areas. Thus little regional climatic significance can be assumed from their occurrence, and they cannot be taken as evidence in support of dry Boreal and sub-Boreal periods in the Blytt and Sernander climatic scheme. In the northwest Highlands dates from pine stumps and major declines of Pinus pollen in pollen diagrams are consistently around 4000 B.P. This overall demise of pine may have a regional climatic cause in this area.