Max CA Torbenson* - Queen's University of Belfast
David M Brown - Queen's University of Belfast
Four ring-width chronologies for Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) from two bog sites in Northern Ireland were developed in order to extend the regional tree-ring record and test pollen-based histories of the species for the mid-Holocene. Three of the chronologies pre-date the earliest absolute dated pine master chronology (PINE3000) in the British Isles. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the earliest chronology spans c. 6250-5850 BC and two others date around 5000 BC. We were able to cross-dated the fourth chronology against PINE3000 which produced a dated position of 3069-2797 BC. Together with data from prior dendrochronological studies, the age of the three early chronologies raise questions regarding past interpretations of palynological data covering the period, which indicates a sharp decline in pine pollen in the north of Ireland during the first half of the 6th millennia BC. Because some of the dendrochronological samples were collected from the same location as peat for the pollen analysis, the data suggest that the decline may not have been due to a local demise but rather to regional fluctuations. Our results support arguments for revised thresholds for local presence in pine pollen, and highlight a need for further research in pre-Neolithic environmental change.