Pollen analyses of a peat profile collected from Butterburn Flow, northern England have been used to reconstruct vegetation and land-use change from the late Neolithic (c. 3230 cal. BC) to the present day. 'Wiggle-matching' of 42 AMS 14C dates has enabled a precise (decadal scale) chronology to be established, and the results are interpreted within the context of previous studies of vegetation change in the area. Three Late Neolithic–Bronze Age woodland clearance phases occurred, with the first beginning c. 2290 cal. BC. Cleared areas were utilized for pastoral and limited arable agriculture. Late Iron Age clearance and agricultural intensification began at Butterburn Flow c. 300 cal. BC; the peak period of clearance c. 90 cal. BC–AD 50 cal. was comparable in intensity with that in the fourteenth century AD. Farmland in the area was abandoned during the period c. AD 90–450 cal., contemporaneous with the Roman occupation of the region; following Roman withdrawal, a resurgence of agriculture occurred. The timing of later periods of agricultural decline relate to climatic deterioration, political instability and disease in the region.