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RCAHMS image


Carse of Stirling

East Lothian carse




Scottish sea levels

6. Carselands

Influenced by the impressive nature of the raised shore features of Scotland, most of the research undertaken had been based upon an essentially morphological approach, with little detailed dating of the shorelines identified. However this changed for sea levels reached during the Holocene (the last 11000 years) as detailed stratigraphies beneath the “carselands” of Scotland began to be studied in ever increasing detail (e.g. Smith et al., 2010). “Carse” is a name used throughout Scotland to denote a flat, former estuarine surface lying around the head of an estuary. Jamieson had first realised the potential of the carse in studies of sea level change on his visit to Blairdrummond, for the section he examined was cut in the carselands there.
Carseland stratigraphy had provided evidence for buried shorelines; by now it was providing the opportunity for studies of the detailed fluctuations of land and sea, for within the carse lay horizons of peat, which, having accumulated as sea level changed, could be examined using microfossil analyses (usually of pollen and diatoms) and dated by radiocarbon. Such work could provide a framework for the identification of sequences of sea level change, and in the ensuing decades a number of studies of different carseland areas on both East and West coasts gradually revealed the detail of sea level changes during this period, with many graphs produced showing very detailed changes in sea level as shorelines were reached and subsequently abandoned at different levels away from the centre of uplift (e.g. Smith et al., 2003). Eventually, studies disclosed at least one dated, time-transgressive shoreline, supporting the original view of Wright (e.g. Smith et al., 2002).