[News archive]

Bronze Age Bressay!
Fieldwork started on the Bronze Age Bressay! Project in June 2008. Structures within the eroding Bronze Age Burnt Mound on Shetland were excavated and their position recorded. The site was then dismantled and rebuilt as a tourist attraction next to the Bressay Heritage Centre. Work was completed in August and the site was officially launched by Tavish Scott, MSP. The project teamed SCAPE up with project partners, Archaeology Scotland and the Bressay History Group. The original site was excavated by EASE Archaeology and the reconstruction was undertaken by Jim Keddie and Rick Barton. A project website was launched and can be visited here.

Baile Sear excavation 2008
A third season of excavation at Baile Sear, North Uist was started in September and completed in October, 2008. Members of Access Archaeology teamed up with SCAPE and the two trenches excavated in 2007 were reopened. Ian McHardy finished off the excavation of Trench 2, and it looks as if the cellular structures he uncovered last year may be associated with the very back wall of an Iron Age wheelhouse. Unfortunately, most of the building has been lost to the sea. Rebecca Rennell worked in Trench 1, where she found that the wheelhouse discovered in 2007 had taken a battering during winter storms. Although the front wall of the wheelhouse had been washed away, the preservation towards the back was very good, with the walls standing almost two metres in height. A beautiful baked clay hearth with a cross inscribed upon it and a strange deposit of cremated bone, partially burned animals and a human jawbone, all lying on a rotary quern, were amongst the star discoveries.

Brora dig 2008
Work continued at the old salt works at Brora in August 2008. Members of the Clyne Heritage Society and the North of Scotland Archaeology Society, in collaboration with SCAPE, concentrated on excavating the building with the fireplaces that was partially excavated in 2007. They also held some very successful Open Days, where activities included guided walks showing the industrial heritage of Brora, tours of the excavation and experimental salt making. The group are currently working with SCAPE to make a new display for the Clyne Heritage Centre and are writing the report on this year's activities.

Photographic Exhibition

The Capturing the Coastline Photographic Exhibition is currently showing in two venues. It will be at the Art Gallery, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery between 29th March – 3rd May 2008. Following this, it will tour other venues in Highland region.

It is also on at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Art Centre in North Uist. [posted March 2008]

New Brora Excavation Website Launched
The SCAPE Trust and the Clyne Heritage Society have been excavating eroding salt pans at Brora, Sutherland. This work has been funded by Historic Scotland and the National Lottery, Awards for All. The Clyne Heritage Society has prepared information and images and SCAPE has worked with them to produce web pages dedicated to the project. These pages can now be viewed at www.shorewatch.co.uk/brora.

The report on the first season of excavation has just been completed, and is available from the 'reports' page of the Brora website . [posted February 2008]

Cruester, Bressay, Shetland
The SCAPE Trust has been developing a project in partnership with the Council for Scottish Archaeology and the Bressay History Society. If funding applications are successful, eroding structures contained within a burnt mound will be excavated. This site was partially examined by EASE Archaeology in 1999. Since then, the site has continued to erode and parts of it have been washed away. The plan is to excavate the site, dismantle the walls and rebuild them next to the Bressay Heritage Centre. The reconstructed monument will act as a focus for experimental archaeology and outreach projects. Due to its proximity to Bressay ferry, there will be easy access from Lerwick and it is expected that the project will help to attract more visitors to this fascinating island. [posted January 2008]

Spreading the word
Members of SCAPE have been busy spreading the word about Scotland’s coastal archaeology and erosion. Tom Dawson gave a paper at the CBA Adapting Archaeology conference at the British Academy, London in July 2007.

In September, he joined Katinka Stentoft to deliver a paper at the Environmental Histories of Europe and Japan Conference in Kobe, Japan. This was followed by a paper at the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland conference in Stirling, preceded by a front page spread in the Sunday Herald newspaper. [posted November 2007]

Baile Sear Excavation
Historic Scotland funded a second season of excavation at Baile Sear, North Uist in August. The excavation was organised by SCAPE on behalf of the local Uist heritage group, Access Archaeology. Two trenches were opened, one under the supervision of Kate MacDonald, an archaeologist from Lochboisdale, South Uist and the other under the supervision of Ian Mchardy, an archaeologist from Stornoway, Lewis. Both trenches encountered drystone walling which was up to a metre high in places. Kate’s trench was placed over an Iron Age wheelhouse sitting on the beach and Ian’s trench revealed several cellular structures. The remains are very vulnerable to erosion, but it is hoped that they will survive this winter’s storms so that they can be investigated further. The excavation reports are currently being compiled and will be placed on this website when finished. [posted October 2007]

Brora excavation
A two week excavation at the remains of the old salt works at Brora started on August 20th. This work followed on from 9 previous investigation carried out by the Clyne Heritage Society in collaboration with SCAPE. Masonry has been exposed on the beach for a number of years, and a detailed survey by CFA Archaeology in November 2005 showed that there were substantial remains behind the coast edge that would soon be vulnerable to erosion.

The excavation was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland and the work was directed by Janet Hooper, a local archaeologist based in Inverness. There was very strong local interest in the work and numerous people volunteered their time to participate. Several structures were revealed, one with a paved floor intact. The excavation report is currently being finished and a website relating to the excavation, and written by the Clyne Heritage Society, is being hosted by SCAPE. [posted September 2007]

Sandwick excavation
The excavation of the Iron Age structure on Unst, Shetland, has been completed. The final season saw the last parts of the site being excavated, under the direction of Olivia Lelong. This was followed by reconstructing some of the structures, based on detailed drawings and photographs. The reconstruction was completed by Jim Keddie and Ric Barton from the Scatness project, under the direction of Helen Bradley, project officer of the Council for Scottish Archaeology’s Adopt - a - Monument scheme. Shetland Islands Council has sponsored an upgrade of local parking facilities and the track to the site. A sign will soon be installed at the site. The website about the project has been updated and can be seen here. [posted September 2007]

Notice of Annual General Meeting
Notice is hereby given that the Sixth Annual General Meeting of the Members of THE SCAPE TRUST will be held in St Mary’s College Hall, South Street, St Andrews, on Monday, 14th May 2007 at 10.30 a.m.

1. To approve the minutes of the Second Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 31st May 2006. 2. In accordance with the Articles of Association of the Company:- 2.1 To approve the retiral from office of one third of the directors (to the nearest round number) of the Company. The three remaining original directors to retire and one other determined by lot from those longest-serving in office. 2.2 To re-appoint as a director of the Company any member in respect of whom a written notice of willingness to accept such an appointment has been received. 3. To receive the Chairman's Report and the draft accounts of the Company for the year ended 31st March 2007. 4. To consider the re-appointment Messrs Minto, Finnie, Parsons, Turnbull, Chartered Accountants of St Andrews as Auditors of the Company, and to determine their remuneration. 5. To deal with any other competent business. [posted April 2007]

New Member of Staff
SCAPE welcomed a new member of staff, Labhaoise McKenna, on the 9th November 2006. Labhaoise is a coastal and marine archaeologist and was previously employed by Wessex Archaeology. She will be working on coastal archaeological projects throughout Scotland with Tom and Katinka. [posted November 2006]

Excavation at Baile Sear, North Uist
Between 26th September and 8th October 2006 The SCAPE Trust and Access Archaeology carried out a two-week evaluation of an eroding settlement mound at Baile Sear on the west coast of North Uist. The results of the excavation show that the site is a large settlement site and that the archaeology extends back into the machair behind the frontal dunes. Several stone structures were uncovered including the remains of two circular structures and a possible rectangular building. SCAPE staff are now working on the data and the finds which include quern stones, a mortar, decorated pottery and disarticulated human remains. The site report will be availble in the 'publications' section of this website in due course. [posted November 2006]

Members of Access Archaeology excavating archaeological features at Baile Sear

Photograph of Alice Roberts interviewing Tom Dawson for the BBC Coast programme.

Alice Roberts interviews Tom Dawson for the BBC Coast programme
SCAPE excavation to feature on BBC Coast programme
The second season of excavation at the eroding Iron Age structures on Unst, Shetland, is due to finish at the end of August. Exciting finds so far this year include a painted pebble found on the floor of one of the buildings and a piece of soapstone shaped to act as a funnel. The dig has attracted many visitors, including a team from the BBC Coast series. Dr Alice Roberts and the film crew spent two days talking to members of the local Shorewatch group and others from the excavation team. As well as discussing the site and general problems of coastal erosion, the skeleton located last year was examined by Alice, a lecturer in anatomy at the University of Bristol. The programme is due to be aired next spring. [posted October 2006]

Scottish Natural Heritage publish 'The Beaches of Scotland' series online
Information on the size and features of Scotland’s 647 sandy beaches is now available from The Beaches of Scotland reports online. The reports are electronic versions of the original historic studies carried out during 1969-1981, of all Scotland’s sand beaches, including their associated dunes, links and machair areas. Click here to go the relevant page on the SNH website. [posted October 2006]

2006 AGM of the SCAPE Trust
An Annual General Meeting of the SCAPE Trust was held on 31st May 2006 at 10.30 am at the head quarters of the National Trust for Scotland, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. [posted June 2006]

The problem facing the coast of Scotland from erosion is grave and The SCAPE Trust is therefore delighted to report that two organisations have generously agreed to support SCAPE and its work.

The Crown Estate
A picture of The Crown Estate logoThe Crown Estate will part-fund one of the Project Officer positions for the next three years, starting in April. The Crown Estate owns most of the intertidal area and a large part of the coast edge, and will fund the position through its Marine Stewardship Fund. Part of the funding will allow Katinka to arrange a national photographic competition – aimed at promoting awareness of the problems of coastal erosion in Scotland. More about this soon!
March 2006

Historic Scotland
A picture of the Historic Scotland logoHistoric Scotland is the main organisation that devotes time and resources to the threat of erosion to Scotland’s archaeological heritage. It has agreed to continue to support The SCAPE Trust by providing funds to help administer the Shorewatch project and other SCAPE activities. The help of Historic Scotland has been crucial in helping SCAPE to develop, and this further support is warmly welcomed.
March 2006

The directors of The SCAPE trust would like to thank both organisations for their generous assistance.

Eroding human remains dated
A photograph of Tom Dawson of the SCAPE Trust reporting a find of human remains to a local police officer.Two human leg bones were spotted eroding from a sand dune at Ardivachar, South Uist, last year during a Shorewatch visit. The bones were reported to the police (who have to be informed every time human remains are located) and a visit was made to check whether a crime had been committed. Once the police were happy that foul play was not involved, the bones were taken away by a team from Cardiff University. They were sent away for radiocarbon dating, and the results have just been received. They indicate that the skeleton is probably dated to 605-655AD, putting it in the Pictish period. The area of discovery will now be monitored to see if any other human remains start to erode.
March 2006

Coastal Surveys
SCAPE is currently managing three coastal surveys, and all are nearing completion. Once finished, all reports will be made available on the coastal survey webpage.

A photograph of the remains of a wooden boat at Aberlady
Remains of wooden boat at Aberlady

A photograph of the west coast of Colonsay
View of the west coast of Colonsay

A photograph of Loch Carnan, South Uist
Loch Carnan, South Uist

button A survey of the coast from North Berwick to the English border is being undertaken by EASE Archaeology. The survey includes a second look at part of the East Lothian coast, originally examined ten years ago, to see how much has changed.

button SCAPE are completing a survey of the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay, Inner Hebrides. Although famous for their Viking discoveries and Mesolithic shell mounds, the main things recorded have been a series of modified rock shelters and caves.

button GUARD are finishing a desk-based assessment of the east coast of North and South Uist and Benbecula, Western Isles. They are studying maps, aerial photographs and previous archaeological records to help assess the potential for archaeological discoveries (see the Shorewatch website: 'Information about archaeology' page on how to find out about archaeology in your area). They are also examining the coast edge to see how prone the area is to erosion.

Skeleton at Unst dig
A very well-preserved skeleton has been located during the SCAPE-led excavation at Sandwick, Unst, Shetland. The skeleton was lying on its back and was buried with its knees together. A polished stone disk had been placed by its head and four interlaced rings (two metal and two bone or ivory) placed by its arm. The skeleton was buried after the abandonment of the structures that are the main focus of the excavation, but is still thought to be Late Iron Age in date due to the finds associated with it. Images of it are available on the project website.
September 2005

Website launched for Unst excavation
Information about the excavation of eroding remains at Sandwick Bay, Unst, Shetland can now be viewed at a new website. The website, designed by Ingrid Shearer of GUARD, contains pages on the progress of the excavation, shows members of the excavation team, has a kids page and includes an extensive image gallery. The website can be viewed at www.shorewatch.co.uk/unst
August 2005

Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys completed
The Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys of the coast of North and South Uist, Benbecula and Grimsay have now been completed. The surveys were set up by SCAPE and funded by Historic Scotland after the devastating storms that hit the Western Isles in January 2005. The report on the South Uist, Benbecula and Grimsay survey, undertaken by EASE Archaeology, is available here. The North Uist survey report, undertaken by CFA Archaeology, is almost finished and will be available soon.
March 2005

The storm of January 2005
The terrible storms of January 2005 had a devastating effect on many parts of the west coast of Scotland. Particularly badly affected were the Hebridean islands of Benbecula and North and South Uist. The west coasts of these islands are mainly composed of sand dunes and machair, and the strong westerly winds and extraordinary high tides radically altered the coast in many places. The SCAPE Trust, in collaboration with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, had submitted a proposal to Historic Scotland to survey the coasts of North Uist and Benbecula before the storms hit. After the storms, they received numerous reports of archaeological sites that had been damaged by the gales. Many fragile sites lay exposed on beaches or visible in eroding dune faces. Recognising that many sites were now under grave threat, Historic Scotland decided to commission the surveys with immediate effect, adding South Uist to the places to be examined, and deciding to concentrate on the west coasts of these islands. The surveys are currently underway, with CFA Archaeology undertaking the survey of North Uist and EASE Archaeology working on Benbecula and South Uist.
© SCAPE February 2005

Web publication of all Historic Scotland Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys
Since 1996, Historic Scotland has commissioned a series of surveys of parts of the Scottish coast. Teams of archaeologists have worked with geomorphologists to record the:

• archaeological sites

• geology and geomorphology

• erosion class

Some of the surveys quadrupled the number of recorded sites, and the reports also provided an assessment of the condition of the sites, together with recommendations for further work. Although these reports contain a wealth of valuable information, there was limited distribution, with paper copies available for consultation at the offices of the local authority archaeologists, Historic Scotland, or the National Monuments Record for Scotland. No digital copies of the reports undertaken before 2001 were available, meaning that anyone wishing to view the reports had to travel to their local Sites and Monuments Record or to Edinburgh. This is about to change, as SCAPE, funded by Historic Scotland, is producing .pdf versions of all of the reports. The master copies are being scanned by hand to produce these copies. As the digital files are so large, the reports are being broken down into chapters, each of which can be either opened on-line or downloaded onto your computer. As copies are available, they will be placed on the publications web pages. To see which areas have been surveyed, and which reports are available click here.