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This paper presents an overview of the Till-Tweed project, an Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund–sponsored geoarchaeological assessment of archaeological and paleoenvironmental records in a major northern UK river basin. The project methodology employed a suite of geomorphological, paleoecological, and archaeological techniques to identify, define, and delimit landform, sediment, and archaeological associations over 358 km2 of the Till and lower Tweed Valleys. These associations were integrated in a geographic information system (GIS), establishing a baseline audit of the heritage resource that is driving the development of both heritage management and research frameworks in these river valley settings.

Particular attention is paid to the new perspectives on landscape development, land use, and settlement that are being derived from analysis of associations between landforms, paleoenvironmental records, and enhanced archaeological data sets. The utility of this approach is illustrated by a case study of the Breamish–Till River at New Bewick, near Powburn, Northumberland. This landscape exhibits a wide range of documented archaeological records, including upstanding monuments, crop marks, and lithic scatters, as well as the potential for alluvial burial of remains that have yet to be discovered. Elements of particular interest are extensive areas of terraced sand and gravel associated with late Devensian deglaciation that are shown to host persistent, multiperiod occupation dating from the Mesolithic period. Numerous infilled kettle holes in these surfaces offer the prospect of long paleoenvironmental records, while paleochannel fills preserved on the adjacent Holocene alluvial valley floor have been shown to locally date from the fourth millennium B.C. and have yielded paleo-ecological evidence of episodic Anglo-Saxon and later woodland clearance, pastoral activities, and cereal cultivation in the immediate vicinity of the archaeological sites.

We conclude that the integration of these geoarchaeological data sets into a GIS platform not only brings clear practical benefits to heritage managers and developers, but constitutes a valuable research tool by permitting more sophisticated and systematic analyses of links between the modern landscape, the environmental record, and the archaeological data set.

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