Encyclopedia of Coastal Science

2019 Edition
| Editors: Charles W. Finkl, Christopher Makowski


  • William RitchieEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93806-6_200
Machair is a Gaelic word which applies to those areas of ancient sand dune systems mainly in the Hebrides of Scotland, but also in west Ireland, where long dune grasses have been superseded and the topography is essentially a low, plain surface (Ritchie 1979). Its main characteristics are summarized below,
  1. 1.

    A level, low-lying, surface at a mature stage of geomorphological evolution, which is part of a very old fully vegetated coastal sand-dune system and is normally marshy in winter.

  2. 2.

    A base of blown sand which has a significant percentage of shell-derived materials and a narrow range of grain sizes.

  3. 3.

    Lime-rich soils with a pH value normally greater than 7.0.

  4. 4.

    A sandy grassland-type vegetation with long dune grasses and other early dune species having been eliminated.

  5. 5.

    Evidence of a history of anthropic interference including heavy grazing (especially rabbits, sheep, and cattle), rotational cultivation and, in places, artificial drainage.

  6. 6.

    A moist, cool location...

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  1. Angus S, Elliott MM (1992) Erosion in Scottish machair, with particular reference to the Outer Hebrides. In: Carter RWG et al (eds) Coastal dunes: geomorphology, ecology and management, for conservation. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 93–112Google Scholar
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aberdeen Institute of Coastal Science and ManagementKing’s CollegeAberdeenUK