Human colonisation of uninhabited environments and changes in how landscapes are used can profoundly influence ecological suites of animals and plants. Human activity in such areas creates new zones of interaction between humans, animals, plants, and the broader landscape. Human communities also create physical, ecological, and socio-cultural space for animals and plants, including domestic and commensal species, macro- and micro-fauna and flora, and are shaped, in turn, by those new environments on a range of levels. Addressing changes in human landscape use alongside concurrent (or resulting) changes in human-animal-environmental relationships using an integrated approach can provide unique insights into the past. Combining archaeological science, ecological and archival approaches, this project will analyse the effects of cultural and ecological disruptions associated with lowland hill colonisation in the post-medieval period and explore any contemporary shifts in human-environmental relationships. This will be achieved through the pursuit of a number of complementary research strands, incorporating techniques from the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. Methods used could include the application of archaeoentomology, zooarchaeology, palynology and/or geochemistry to abandoned sites, or ecological modelling and GIS approaches. These methods will allow the extent of human infringement into marginal environments to be assessed and help characterise the nature of human activities. Approaches from anthropology, history and folklore studies would also be welcome avenues of research in a project that seeks not only to describe and characterise physical change but also to explore how the physical was implicated in contemporary cultural concepts like ‘wilderness’, “andscape’ and ‘nature”.
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