Wet Wilderness to Settled Mosses

At the end of the last Ice Age (c.10,000 BC) the bare soils of the North West were quickly colonised by plants and trees, and animals migrated north at the same time.  Humans quickly followed, and hunted through the forests, scrub, mere, marsh,  and wetlands which had developed.  Beyond some traces in caves at the north end of Morecambe Bay, evidence for early settlement is absent, but the complete skeleton of an elk, the victim of an unsuccessful hunting party, was found at Poulton Le Fylde, with a hunter’s spearhead still embedded in its leg.  At this time sea level was significantly lower than the present day, and, with the melting of the ice, it slowly rose until about the later part of the Mesolithic period (c. 5,000 BC), when a coastline similar to that of today was established.


In the Neolithic period (4,000 – 2,500 BC) a shift from hunting and gathering to more agricultural based communities led to some clearance and settlement of the land, a process that continued into the Bronze Age (2,500 – 700 BC).  During the later Bronze age, however, deterioration in the climate to colder and wetter conditions appears to have forced farming activities down from the higher (and more easily cleared) fells and the development of the lowland peat mosses of the Fylde and West Lancashire also restricted settlement.  The moss areas were not, however, entirely depopulated and settlement on the moss edges and on drier 'islands' allowed the exploitation of these areas for hunting, fishing and rough grazing.  Archaeological finds across the mosses of the Fylde and south of the Ribble include burials, stone and bronze implements and traces of wooden structures such as raised trackways.

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