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Christopher MacKay

BSc (Hons) Environmental Geography

Topic: Sedimentation of Loch Dochart.  Why is this happening and what are the heritage implications of this for the area?

Supervisors: Dr Catherine Mills and Professor Ian Simpson

It was during my undergraduate degree in Environmental Geography at the University of Stirling that I found ways to combine my background in geography with my interests in history. During my course this took me down the root of environmental history onward to geoarchaeology and soil science. This culminated in my undergraduate dissertation; a project focussing on the geoarchaeology and site formation processes of the Lumbini village mound in Nepal. The study area is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following completion of that course in summer 2013, I decided to further my studies. This has brought me to my postgraduate research as part of the MSc in Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling.

My postgraduate research topic aims to investigate the apparent disappearance of Loch Dochart. Situated to the east of Tyndrum, different evidential sources suggest that the surface area of the loch has been decreasing over the past 150 years. Aside from its perceived natural beauty, the loch is perhaps more important for a variety of different reasons. These range from its hydrological functions through to its economic and heritage importance. Loch Dochart is within the area covered by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and, as it is part of the Tay river catchment, is covered by a Special Area of Conservation. By using a variety of historical sources, in combination with field work and landscape evidence, I aim to identify whether historic land use practices at the catchment scale have had an impact on the surface area of the loch, and if so, to what extent. Furthermore, the rate of change will be assessed with consideration given to the heritage aspects and potential loss of amenity within the surrounding area.

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