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Changes to the Stirling Castle site between 2002 and 2006

Above: A representation of the Stirling Castle site, showing the seabed profile in 2002, 2005 and 2006. The wreck is situated on the top of the mound in the centre of the image. The mound slopes steeply into deep scour pits to the north and east of the wreck, whereas the slope to the west and south is less severe. Sediment has accreted over the entirety of the site, apart from on the wreck itself (which is continually exposed) on each successive year.

Survey data taken in 2002, 2005 and 2006 provides 'snapshots' of the wreck site and the seabed around it. Using points on the structure of the Stirling Castle itself to calibrate the surveys allows us to make quantitative comparisons of sediment levels over this period.

Analysis of the changes in sediment profile around the site indicates that there has been a general accretion of sediment between 2002 and 2006. A part of the wreck mound, however, appears to have subsided into the scour pit to the east of the site, or been eroded away completely.


Based on the observed increase in sediment height, and assuming a continuation of the observed accretion process, we would judge that the rate is not sufficiently great as to completely bury the wreck site, and so protect it, in the next decade.

This best rate we can estimate, however, is based on three discreet snapshots taken one or more years apart. Violent storms, which might occur on average as often as every five or ten years, might strip large amounts of sediment away from the site, and set the (re-)burial process back many years in a few hours.

As a consequence, there is a need to continually monitor wreck sites around the British coastline, to accrue data until a realistic model of sedimentary processes influencing preservation of the site can be established. It is only with such a model that a realistic plan for managing and preserving sites like the Stirling Castle can be prepared.

Link to:Stirling Castle site overview.
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