Palynological evidence for pre-agricultural reindeer grazing and the later settlement history of the Lycksele region, northern Sweden

Ilse Kamerling* (Corresponding Author), J Edward Schofield, Kevin J Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

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Analyses of high-resolution pollen data, coprophilous fungal spores, microscopic charcoal and sedimentology, combined with radiocarbon dating, allow the assessment of the impact of Sami and Nordic land use in the region surrounding the winter market town of Lycksele in northern Sweden. Such winter markets were established by the Crown during the seventeenth century AD to control the semi-nomadic movements of the Sami who traded here with Finnish settlers and were also taxed and educated. Little is known about Sami and Nordic co-existence beyond these market places, mainly due to a lack of archaeological evidence relating to Sami activity. Vegetation and land-use changes in the region between ~ AD 250 and 1825 reveal no signal for pre-seventeenth century agricultural activity, but the coprophilous fungal spore records suggest the increased regional presence of grazing herbivores (possibly reindeer) between ~ AD 800 and 1100. Sami activity in the parish of Lycksele has been suggested by rich metal finds dated to ~ AD 1000–1350 and they may have been attracted by an abundance of reindeer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42
Number of pages21
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Open Access via the Springer Compact Agreement
Thanks are offered to Timothy Mighall, Jeff Blackford, Kjell-Åke Aronsson and Mari Kuoppamaa for their comments, Audrey Innes for laboratory assistance, Gordon Cook for AMS radiocarbon analyses, and Martin Konert and the late Sjoerd Bohncke for assistance with LOI and related analyses.
This research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust through the Footprints on the Edge of Thule project, and was written up under the auspices of the ERC-funded project Arctic Domus.


  • Forest Sami
  • Reindeer herding
  • Nordic farmers
  • Colonization
  • Grazing
  • Hay making
  • Fire clearance
  • Swidden
  • Boreal forest
  • Pollen analysis
  • Coprophilous fungal spores


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