Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

Late Holocene landscape development around a Roman Iron Age mass grave, Alken Enge, Denmark

  • Niels Emil Søe
  • Bent Vad Odgaard
  • Anne Birgitte Nielsen
  • Jesper Olsen
  • Søren M. Kristiansen
Publishing year: 2017-05
Language: English
Pages: 277-292
Publication/Series: Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
Volume: 26
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Sediments from the small lake Ilsø situated in the Illerup/Alken Enge Valley were studied in order to investigate past landscape development at the time of a probably ritual human mass burial following battle during the Roman Iron Age (ad 1–400). A pollen record from Ilsø and a number of other records from Jutland were combined using the Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm to reconstruct local vegetation changes through the last 2,800 years. These methods were supplemented by studies of catchment-related geochemistry of the Ilsø lake sediments. The results show a marked reforestation event associated with a strong decrease in erosion levels at the very beginning of the first century ad, contemporaneous with the finds of human remains at Alken Enge. Comparison with a pollen record 10 km away and with those from other sites, reveals that this reforestation occurs unusually early and rapidly, and is an unparalleled development in a Danish context. We suggest that the major landscape changes at the beginning of the Roman Iron Age and forest cover for the next few centuries comprise a possible example of ritual control of local land-use.


  • Archaeology
  • Geology
  • Erosion rates
  • Iron Age
  • Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm
  • Palaeolimnology


  • ISSN: 0939-6314
Anne Birgitte Nielsen
E-mail: anne_birgitte [dot] nielsen [at] geol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Quaternary Sciences

+46 46 222 39 48


Sölvegatan 12, Lund


Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Lund University
Sölvegatan 12
S-223 62 Lund

Processing of personal data

Accessibility statement