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Title: Some geographical aspects of the Blair Atholl papers
Author: Blance, Thelma
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1956
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This is an area of high relief in the north, with a large section lying 2500's to the south of the Pass of Killiecrankie. 1500' is reached at only a few points. The underlying rooks are mainly metamorphic and the highly resistant quartzites form the most conspicuous elements of the landscape such as the barrier at the Pass of Killiecrankie. Three large rivers set the main drainage pattern, the Garry flowing mainly east to west and forming a wide strath to the north of Killiecranki and the Tummel and Tay which join to form a long broad valley running in a north-south direction. This region has been heavily glaciated and a great deal of drift, remains on the valley sides. Fluvio-glacial terraces form distinctive features on slopes in the main valleys, and morainic material is found, in the minor valleys in the north. Recent alluvial deposition has, formed extensive haughland in the Tusnmel-Tay valley in particular. On the uplands of the north particularly, snowfall is heavy in winter. The valley floors are very often affected by frosts in spring and autumn which in earlier years had a considerable effect on sowing and harvesting of crops. The valley settlement tends to be protected from certain winds, bat the valleys channel and emphasise strong winds to the detriment of the forests. This is essentially a region of valley settlement, which depends to some extent in the Tumael-Tay valley on the older fluvio-glacial terrace and also on the lower river terraces with an upper limit at 800', in. the north in Glen Fender and Glen Tilt settlement occurs at over 1000'. The population has declined uniformly throughout the area except in Moulin Pariah which includes Pitlochry; here the population has increased considerably. This decline is attributed to an 18th century drain of men to war service, to the changes in far, techniques and the dispersal of the over-populated farm-towns involving the movement away from the area of the surplus population. The Wade military road was the first improvement in communications. In late 18th Century considerable improvements were carried out on other roads. The opening of Dunkeld Bridge in 1808 opened up the country to through coach traffic. With the through railway free Perth to Inverness opened in 1863 the tourist trade wan finally established. But the insistence of the then Duke of Atholl that this railway should run on the opposite side of the river from Dunkeld to its decline. During most of the 18th century the run-rig system prevailed through the estates. Improvements wore initiated towards the end of; the 18th Century and the dispersal of the farmtowns ensued. Tenants were forced by their leases to maintain proper rotation and methods of husbandry. The amalgamation of holdings has continued during the 19th and present centuries, until in some parts several farms are held by one person. The uplands carry considerable sheep but in the Forest of Atholl sporting interests for a time Prevailed:at present both forms of occupation are practised. At the beginning of the 18th century only indigenous oakwood and birch wore found in Atholl. Important new species were introduced at this time in the larch and spruce. Towards mid-Century afforestation was commenced in the policies at Dunkeld and Blair. After 1774 the upper limit of afforestation was pushed continuously higher until in 1815 areas over 1500' were planted. Considerable experimentation went on between 1774 and 1830 with the different species of trees, and larch, spruce and Scots fir were finally placed on the soils and at the altitudes for which they are still recommended. During this period too, the larch was tried as ship-timber, and for the-first time ships, such as a Naval frigate, were built wholly of this wood. From 1774 to 1830 over 27,000,000 trees were planted. This felling of these trees was carried out in ensuing years. In mid-19th century new outlets were found for larch timber in manufactured articles such as sheep-hurdles, and in timber for railway sleepers. In late 19th Century new areas wore opened up for plantations around Blair particularly, but with the prevalence larch disease few of this species were planted. New species such as- Douglas fir and, Japanese larch wore introduced, and at the beginning of the 20th Century the hybrid larch were discovered at Dunkeld and much planted thereafter. Very heavy felling of the woods went on during both World wars, and with heavydeath duties levied on the estate re-afforestation was not fully carried out. These private estate woodlands were lately dedicated and a full re-afforestation, thinning and felling programme can now be maintained.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available