Modelling changes in the coastal geomorphology of Unst, Shetland and the implications for understanding High to Late Medieval harbour changes in the Scandinavian North Atlantic


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Parent name: Harbours of the North Atlantic AD 800-1300

Project Details

Title:Modelling changes in the coastal geomorphology of Unst, Shetland and the implications for understanding High to Late Medieval harbour changes in the Scandinavian North Atlantic
Permalink:http://www.nabohome.org/cgi-bin/explore.pl?seq=222
Abstract:This sub-project is part of the SP5 Geomorphology section of the HaNoA project.

The geomorphological setting of Norse harbours in the Atlantic is variable, with contrasting landform stability over short, medium and long time scales. Here we assess geomorphological change on the island of Unst, the most northerly of the British Isles, a coastline used by the Norse, as well as earlier and later societies. This island offer a complex coastline of deep fjords and arcuate embayments and thus significent differences in forces acting upon the coastline. There is also evidence for instability in the beaches used by Norse that could have been driven by the changes in climate conditions from the Medieval Climatic Anomaly to the Little Age and the present day. We model coastlines using the sediment dynamics model MIKE21. Model results agree well with the location of extant sandy beaches on Unst, but model runs with modern environmental drivers also build sandy beaches where none currently exist. Blown sand deposits were formed in the 12th-13th century, consistent with High Medieval settlement times and the onset of the Little Ice Age, suggesting that some of the Norse landing sites began to destabilise at this time.

This research will show how beach instability can be modelled to determine the likely circumstances under which beaches formed, changed or disappeared and thus the potential geomorphological drivers of coastal change, harbour use and our ability to identify past harbour sites.

Keywords:Geormorphology, Unst, Shetland, Coastal, Harbour, Landing site, Norse, Viking, Erosion, Beach,
Sponsors/Funders: University of Edinburgh
Deutsche Forschunggemeinschaft (DFG)
Country:Scotland
Region:Unst, Shetland Islands
Project Start Year:2013

Account Owner

Contact: John Preston
Postal Address: Drummond St

Edinburgh

Post Code: EH8 9XP
Telephone: 07739839996
Email: john.preston@ed.ac.uk

Project Collaborators

Name: Andrew Dugmore
Institution: Institute of Geography, School of GeoSciences
Address: Drummond Street, Edinburgh
Postcode: EH8 9XP
Country: Scotland, UK
Phone: + 44 (0)131 650 8156
Email: andrew.dugmore@ed.ac.uk
 
Name: Natascha Mehler
Institution: Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum
Address: Hans-Scharoun-Platz 1, Bremerhaven
Postcode: 27568
Country: Germany
Email: Mehler@museum.dsm
Website: http://dsm.academia.edu/NataschaMehler
 
Name: Anthony Newton
Institution: University of Edinburgh
Address: University of Edinburgh Drummond Street Edinburgh
Postcode: EH89XP
Country: Scotland, UK
Phone: +441316502546
Email: anthony.newton@ed.ac.uk
 


Project extent

North East Coordinates: 60.881°N, .734°W
South West Coordinates: 60.659°N, .998°W