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.
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.
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.
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]
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
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]
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]
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
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]
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
relating to the excavation, and written by the Clyne
Heritage Society, is being hosted by SCAPE. [posted
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 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
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]
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
Alice Roberts interviews Tom Dawson for the BBC
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]
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]
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.
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!
Scotland is the main organisation
that devotes time and resources to the threat of erosion
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
of The SCAPE trust would like to thank both organisations
for their generous assistance.
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.
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.
Remains of wooden boat at Aberlady
View of the west coast of Colonsay
Loch Carnan, South Uist
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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:
• 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.