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Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion


									S CAPE
Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion
Parts of Scotland’s coast are threatened by erosion      archaeological and environmental significance of
and other processes. Although climate change             the coastal zone of Scotland, and to raise awareness
predictions suggest that the problem may worsen in       of the vulnerability of this precious resource to
the future, much of the coastline is already affected.   coastal erosion.
The coast is constantly changing and evolving, but
single events such as storms can cause sudden            SCAPE recognises that coastal erosion is a natural
transformations resulting in large areas of coastline,   process and that not all threatened heritage sites
and the cultural heritage within it, being washed        can be protected. We work with local groups on
away.                                                    community projects that investigate, record and
                                                         save sites so that people can discover, enjoy and
The SCAPE Trust is a registered charity that             learn from them, both now and in the future.
focuses on the heritage of Scotland’s coast. We
seek to widen understanding of the historical,

                                                                                 Slipway for the salmon fishery
                                                                                 at Boddin Point, Angus just
                                                                                 before and just after the storm
                                                                                 of March 31st, 2010.

                                                              Cover photo: Community excavation, Brora saltpans
Professor TC Smout
The mission of SCAPE is to work with local               help Historic Scotland to target resources in the
communities to face the problems confronting             most efficient way according to a systematic set of
Scotland’s rich heritage of coastal archaeology.         priorities. The problems of coastal erosion will not
There is so much that is important yet often hardly      go away and may very well become worse, but we
appreciated, and some of the best is at immediate        believe that we can use the eroding sites to engage
risk. It needs to be recorded: we must develop ways      local people in their past. This is what SCAPE does
to survey, as at Loch Hourn, Boddin and Cnip. We         best.
should work with communities to excavate what is
the most important, as we are doing in Sutherland        Two words of thanks and congratulations.
and in the Hebrides, even occasionally move some         Thanks to Sally Magnusson, our Patron, for much
of it to a safer site, as SCAPE has helped to do at      encouragement and help behind the scenes, and
Cruester in Shetland.                                    congratulations to Tom Dawson on his appointment
                                                         as a member of the Royal Commission on the
Perhaps above all Scotland needed a strategy             Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.
of priorities to cope with the problem. Among
the tens of thousands of sites round the Scottish        Please enjoy our Annual Review. It shows how
coasts, which are the most important and in the          even in difficult times, problems of environment
most urgent of recording and excavation? Tom             and heritage can be positively confronted— if
Dawson has completed a comprehensive review to           communities are effectively engaged.

     Volunteers investigating eroding masonry at the Brora salt pans community excavation                       3
Fieldwork Projects
Excavation, Brora salt pans,
                                                           the coast has
The Clyne Heritage Society and SCAPE continued
                                                           retreated by up to
their partnership project at the salt pans at Brora.
                                                           50m in this area,
The site is eroding rapidly and the project has
                                                           and that the three
rescued a wealth of information relating to the
                                                           other buildings
eighteenth century salt pans that would otherwise
                                                           depicted on the
have been lost.
                                                           1772 map have
                                                           been lost to the
One of the aims of this year’s work was to identify
buildings and features depicted on historic maps
with archaeological remains recorded in our
                                                           As in previous
excavations. Although nothing is visible on the
                                                           years, the site
ground today, maps drawn in 1772 and 1813 show
                                                           was open to
several buildings and an ‘Intended Waggon Road’,
locally remembered right up until the present day
                                                           and the open
as the ‘coal road’, even though the feature itself was
                                                           day attracted
lost.                                                                             Eddie excavating the ‘Coal Road’
                                                           numerous visitors.
                                                           An exhibition at the Brora Heritage Centre will help
A carefully positioned trench revealed the road
                                                           people re-discover Brora’s lost salt making industry
– constructed from beach cobbles overlain by a
                                                           long after the excavations are finished.
smooth compacted surface made of crushed coal.
We were also able to correlate our two excavated
buildings with those depicted on the maps. Our
work shows that in the last two hundred years

Archaeological landscape survey,
Outer Loch Hourn, Highland
Loch Hourn lies on the west coast of the Scottish          The North of Scotland Archaeological Society
Highlands, its mouth facing the Isle of Skye.              (NoSAS) has been working with SCAPE to record
                                                           sites around its shore. Although relatively remote
                                                           today, it was frequently visited in the past when the
                                                           use of boats was far more common.

                                                           Since 2002, members of NoSAS have organised five
                                                           seasons of work at the Loch. During their fieldwork
                                                           projects, they have surveyed the loch edge and
                                                           hinterland, undertaken detailed recording projects
                                                           and have even completed two small excavations.

                                                           The five seasons of survey work have located over
                                                           1,300 sites, including almost 80 huts thought to
                                                           have been used on a seasonal basis by people
                                                           involved in herring fishing.


            Plane table survey of Eilean Rarsaidh, NoSAS
Laser scanning survey, Boddin
limekilns, Angus
One of the sites highlighted in the SCAPE survey         which the limekiln is
of the Angus coast (2009) was the Boddin Point           built is undercut by over
limekiln. Lying between Arbroath and Montrose, the       2 metres, suggesting
limekiln is a distinctive feature of the Angus coast,    that further collapse is
with walls over 9m high. The structure is severely       imminent.
threatened by erosion and one corner of the
building has already collapsed.                          The survey forms a
                                                         complete record of the
SCAPE collaborated with Queen’s University, Belfast      surviving building before
to make a highly detailed record of the site using       it suffers further loss, and
a laser scanner. The instrument measured over 4          provides an important
million points across the internal and external faces    baseline against which to
of the structure. The data has been used to generate     measure future change.
                                                                                        Boddin limekiln, built c. 1750
three-dimensional models, animations, plans,
sections and elevations. A cross section through the
northwest corner shows that the rock platform upon

Digital terrain modelling, Cnip,
Western Isles
SCAPE worked with members of the Bhaltos                 Bronze Age cairn and several Norse burials. In early
Trust to survey the large hollows, or blowouts,          2009, more skeletons were uncovered, leading to
in the dunes at Cnip, Lewis. The removal of sand         the local community exploring ways of stopping
has revealed archaeological remains, including a         further erosion to protect the fragile archaeological

                                                         SCAPE helped the group to survey the dunes and
                                                         make a 3D model of the land surface. This is being
                                                         used to help devise management plans. One option
                                                         being explored is to stabilise the hollows by re-
                                                         contouring them and re-establishing a protective
                                                         vegetation cover.

   Digital elevation model of the eroding dune at Cnip
Interpretation of Cruester burnt                        Coastal Zone Assessment Survey, East
mound reconstruction, Shetland                          Sutherland
Work continued on the interpretation of the                                              S CA P E                                   As part of Historic
Cruester reconstruction, with a great deal of input                                                                                 Scotland’s programme
                                                                                         Scottish Coastal Archaeology
                                                                                          and the Problem of Erosion

from Bressay History Group members. A series of                                                                                     of coastal zone
                               indoor and outdoor                                                                                   assessment surveys
                               display panels have                                                                                  (CZAS), SCAPE
                               been designed                    Consultancy - Desk Assessments - Fieldwork - Surveys
                                                                                                                                    managed a survey
                               and installed at the                                                                                 of the coast of East
                               Heritage Centre, and                                                                                 Sutherland extending
                               a leaflet about the                                                                                  from Bonar Bridge to
                               project produced                                                                                     Ord Point (including
                               and distributed          Buildings - Post-Excavation - Research & Teaching - Specialised Services
                                                                                                                                    the Loch Fleet). The
                               throughout Shetland                                                                                  survey was carried out
                               and beyond.                                                                      East Sutherland
                                                                                                                Coastal Zone
                                                                                                                                    on behalf of SCAPE by
                               During a very busy                                                               Assessment Survey
                                                                                                                                    GUARD in February
                               summer, the new                                                                  Project 3064
                                                                                                                                    and March 2010.
site has been the focus of a series of Open Days,
involving experimental archaeology workshops                                         Despite the extremely
using the replica burnt mound tank and hearth cell,     cold weather, the survey recorded almost 400 sites.
living history events and master classes in dry stone   A database and GIS files were produced and a full
walling.                                                report written.         

Policy Projects
Prioritisation project for Historic
A project to prioritise action for all archaeological   number of factors, including
sites recorded in Historic Scotland commissioned        monument class, rarity and
coastal zone assessment surveys (CZAS) was              significance and the threat
completed in 2009. Over 11,500 site records were        to the site from coastal
analysed from the 27 CZAS reports completed             processes.
between 1996 and 2009. The records, which also
included data on the erosion class of the coast,        The work has distilled the
and coastal geology and geomorphology, were             data collected in nearly
standardised and analysed using GIS software. The       fifteen years of survey to a
urgency and the type of action required at sites        manageable set of targets for future work.
was reviewed and re-assessed by examination of a

Scottish Archaeological Research                        Marine taskforce
framework (ScARF)                                       SCAPE continued to contribute as a member of the
Members of SCAPE helped to draft the Marine and         BEFS (Built Environment Forum Scotland) Marine
Maritime section of the Scottish Archaeological         Taskforce and Historic Environment Working Group.
Research Framework (ScARF). Papers were presented
at a day seminar at which the invited audience
helped to develop the framework.

                                                       A number of SCAPE projects featured in the
                                                       national Community Archaeology Conference,
Television and radio                                   in Musselburgh. Tom Dawson presented an
SCAPE’s work benefited from another year of high       overview of SCAPE’s work, while Douglas Coutts
media interest in 2009.                                of the Bressay History Group delivered a talk on
                                                       the Cruester project and Jacquie Aitken of Clyne
                                                       Heritage Society talked about Brora. Jacquie also
                                                       gave a presentation to MSPs at Holyrood as part of

     BBC Alba film crew at Boddin Point limekilns

As a result of a proposal from our patron, Sally                      BBC News film crew, Orkney
Magnusson, the BBC presented a series of news
articles over the summer highlighting coastal          Scottish Environment Week and she and Tom talked
erosion and the work of SCAPE. Five programmes         to the Moray Firth Partnership at their AGM.
were broadcast on BBC Scotland news, with a further
article appearing on the national BBC news.            In November, SCAPE participated at the Summit
SCAPE’s projects were also filmed for a Gaelic TV      for the Built and Historic Environment in Glasgow,
programme broadcast on BBC Alba. Interviews were       hosted by the then Minister for Culture, External
                                                       Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell.

                                                       As well as talking to a number of local groups
                                                       and societies, Tom presented a paper at an SNH
                                                       Sharing Good Practice event on coastal erosion,
                                                       aimed at environment professionals. Tom also
                                                       talked at Heritage Connections in the Park, an event
                                                       organised by the Loch Lomond National Park.

     BBC Alba film crew at Baile Sear, Western Isles
conducted at Sandwick, Boddin, Cruester and Baile
Sear and featured Shorewatch group members and
other project participants.

SCAPE’s work achieved an international audience in
April, when Tom Dawson was interviewed for a radio
programme about coastal heritage and erosion by                       The Low Lighthouse, Isle of May
the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
                                                       Over two days in July, Joanna Hambly introduced
                                                       visitors to the archaeological highlights of the Isle
                                                       of May, Firth of Forth, as part of the Open Days
                                                       organised by Scottish Natural Heritage.
The SCAPE Trust is grateful for financial assistance for its core and project activities in 2009 from Historic
Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the University of St Andrews, Highland and Islands Enterprise,
the Shetland Amenity Trust and Shetland Islands Council.

                                                                                                            Remains of a 19th/early 20th century ship revealed
                                                                                                            over the winter of 2009/10 at Monifieth, Angus
DIRECTORS (2009-2010)
Professor Chris Smout, (Chair)                Dr Neil Galbraith              Professor Chris Morris
Robin Turner, (Vice Chair)                    Dr Jim Hansom                  Dr Anna Ritchie
Dr Barbara Crawford                           Dr Colin Martin                John Scott
Dr Ben Ferrari                                George McQuitty                Dr Richard Tipping

MANAGING DIRECTOR                             Tom Dawson
SCAPE OFFICER                                 Joanna Hambly

REGISTERED COMPANY NUMBER                     216091 (Scotland)
REGISTERED CHARITIES NUMBER                   SC 031678
SECRETARY                                     Ledingham Chambers

REGISTERED OFFICE                             ACCOUNTANTS
Johnstone House                               Henderson, Black and Co.
52-54 Rose Street                             Chartered Accountants
Aberdeen                                      St. Andrews
AB10 1HA                                      Fife
                                              KY16 9PF

T: 01334 467172
The SCAPE Trust, St Katharine’s Lodge, The Scores, St Andrews, KY16 9AL

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