The Pleistocene Solent River and its major tributaries: reinterpreting the fluvial terrace stratigraphy as a framework for the Palaeolithic archaeology of the Solent region
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Despite recent interpretations of the fluvial terrace stratigraphies of the Palaeo-Solent River and its major tributaries, the River Test and River Stour, fundamental issues concerning correlation both within and between key parts of the system remain. Addressing these issues is important to provide a secure stratigraphic framework for the Palaeolithic archaeological record of the region. Disagreement centres on contrasting approaches to the construction of long profile projections of terrace sediments and landforms, and on alternative interpretations of limited stratigraphic and topographic data. During the study extensive fieldwork has been carried out in the region, comprising ground penetrating radar surveys, coastal section recording and reexcavation of key sites. In addition, an examination of the available borehole archive held by the British Geological Survey has provided a substantial body of new data on which a reanalysis of the terrace stratigraphy is based. During fieldwork 26 samples of suitable fluvial sediments were also taken for optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. A rigorous OSL analysis and test program applied to these samples highlights a number of issues inherent in dating sediments from Middle Pleistocene fluvial environments. It also raises potential issues with previously published OSL dates from similar environments, including in the Solent Region, which typically have not received such detailed test procedures. Despite the problems encountered age estimates have been produced for a number of terraces in the Solent River. The enhanced stratigraphic dataset produced by this study is used to critique published stratigraphic models of the Solent system and to create alternatives. A reinterpretation of the terrace stratigraphies of the Solent River, the River Test and River Stour is presented and revised correlations between the three parts of the Solent system are proposed. These provide a new stratigraphic framework for the Palaeolithic archaeology of the Solent River system.
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