Vegetation History

This is the study of the plant life of the past as preserved in the fossil record, including the spore/pollen record.

Plant biodiversity is very sensitive to environmental change, especially climate change. The study of vegetation history is a powerful tool for revealing how our world has changed through time.

The fossil record also helps us understand the evolutionary history of plant life, and the relationships between different groups of plants. Such work therefore complements the study of modern plant biodiversity, giving it the fourth dimension of time.

The Section focuses on the vegetation during the two most recent times in Earth's history when there was substantial polar ice: late Carboniferous and early Permian times (310-290 million years ago) and Pleistocene and modern times (about the last 2 million years). The fossil history of plant life from these two time intervals is particularly well represented in Wales.

Reconstructed view of late Carboniferous coal swamps of South Wales.  Artwork by A. Townsend.
Reconstructed view of late Carboniferous coal swamps of South Wales. Artwork by A. Townsend.
  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.