Pollen Analysis of L’Anse aux Meadows peat

Archaeological evidence from the marine terrace and fen at the site indicates brief episodic occupation for over 5000 years. Five cultural episodes have been identified, although the site is renowned for its Norse settlement.

A fen on the site has provided both artifacts and fossil pollen. Although the pollen spectra are dominated by disturbance taxa, they indicate little or no human impact. Both the archaeological data and the poilen spectra are consistent with brief episodes of occupancy. Relationships between regional environmental changes and the human response are indistinct, although a cool interval after 2500 B.P. coincides with a 1000 year hiatus in occupation.

For the Norse period, the pollen record is compatible with the view that L'Anse aux Meadows was a small, short-lived way station.

[…] The problems are least where archaeological sites include deposits with good pollen preservation, which allows reconstruction of both local and regional environments, and where, by close interval sampling, the sensitivity of the pollen spectra can be maximized. The L'Anse aux Meadows site in northern Newfoundland offers such an opportunity. It has been discontinuously occupied for over 5000 years (Wallace, 1986) although it is best known as the only Norse settlement yet found in North America (Ingstad, 1977). […]

This paper summarizes our attempt to integrate palynology and archaeology at L'Anse aux Meadows. We analysed six peat monoliths from an east-west transect across the fen, although only Monolith 17, the most detailed and the closest to the terrace, is presented here. The pollen spectra are used to reconstruct the vegetational history of the site and the surrounding area in response to climatic and to autogenic changes, and to human impact. The study complements previous paleoecological work by Kuc (1975, Mott (1975), Henningsmoen (1977), Robertson (1978), Davis (1984), and the archaeological investigations of the site (Ingstad, 1977; Wallace, 1977, 1986).

Source: A.M. Davis, J.H. McAndrews, B.L. Wallace, "Paleoenvironment and the Archaeological Record at L\'Anse aux Meadows Site, Newfoundland," Geoarchaeology: An International Journal 3 (1988): 53-64.

Return to parent page