landscape fires

20 Aug 2015

Keenan describes the 2300BC event as perhaps the most significant event in the Holocene - since the end of the Ice Ages. Presumably he means the Younger Dryas event rather than the end of the Late Glacial Maximum. This appears to diminish the 6200BC event on his part - but then again it is not exactly high on everyone's radar. Last night there was an inkling of how important the 6200BC event might have been, in a BBC2 Horizon programme (August 19th), 'The First Britons.' You can or you will be able to catch up on this programme on the BBC i-player and at their web site at - and scroll around for details. Most of the subject matter has been posted at one time or another on In the News at this web site - such as Bouldnor Cliff in the Solent, Dogger Land, the Storegga Shelf Collapse (6200BC) and inundation of the southern North Sea basin, and Blick Mead (the Mesolithic site overlooking Stonehenge). However, there was some other information that was equally as interesting. One scientist had been traipsing around the moors of northern England taking soil cores that go back thousands of years. He found intermittent layers of charcoal. You may remember that is was the discovery of a charcoal layer at the Younger Dryas boundary (in N America and Europe) that gave rise to the idea of a catastrophic event that created a massive C14 plateau and a cooling period reminiscent of earlier Heinrich events (known from the Late Pleistocene) with various theories regards the vector involved - comet or meteor swarm etc. Well, that rang bells - but not in the mind of the scientist concerned. His interpretation was that Mesolithic people in northern England used fire to create clearings, patches in the landscape to entice favoured prey animals (such as deer and aurochs). He regarded it as a clever piece of Mesolithic management of the landscape and we know that Australian Aborigines did this sort of thing right up to recent times. It is therefore a reasonable deduction and no doubt some of the landscape fires were human induced, clearings being quickly colonised by grasses and herbs, and favoured shrubs (fruits and nuts etc). Clearings in thick woodland provided humans and animals with plants and berries they enjoyed eating - no problem with such a scenario as it occurs elsewhere in the world. However, what was it that gave humans the idea of setting alight their environment - where had they witnessed the good effects of such management (keeping heavy forest at bay). It can only have been fires in the natural world - lightning for example, or the burning of landscapes by cosmic airbursts (blast, heat, energy) and this is a distinct repertoire of the gods (including what we call Celtic gods). When the camera came close to one of the soil cores just extracted the charcoal layers were well spread through the core - and one of them appeared to be extraordinarily thick.

The evidence for landscape fires in Australia is always attributed to the Aborigines but it is clear that cosmic fireballs could have been responsible in some cases - but such an idea is off limits to mainstream thought (and ignored). Then you get critics of catastrophism that pop up in blog comments and say, where is the evidence for catastrophism. It is being ignored.