Scotland’s crumbling coastlines

Monday 4 October 2004

Scotland’s crumbling coastlines are proving a crucial resource for coastal communities to work on archaeological projects, preserving valuable information before it is lost forever.

That message, and others, will be highlighted at a national conference at the University of St Andrews next week (Tuesday 12 October 2004), featuring experts from a host of natural and cultural heritage organisations.

The SCAPE – Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion – conference will look at the threat faced by Scotland’s coast from erosion, and the ways that different agencies are dealing with the problem. It will show that natural heritage organisations have taken the lead in planning for changes to the coast and will argue that archaeologists are keen to work more closely with colleagues from other disciplines.

The conference will demonstrate that many of these sites, estimated by Historic Scotland to be as many as 12,000, are at risk. Hundreds of them are of national or even international importance. These sites could potentially be used to both increase our understanding of the development of Scotland and provide revenue to rural areas by increasing tourism and providing employment.

The conference will show how archaeologists have dealt with the problem of eroding sites in the past and will explore new ways of working with our eroding remains, including a greater role for coastal communities to work on archaeological projects.

Tom Dawson, a researcher with the University’s Institute for Environmental History said, “In recent years, there has been an explosion in the popularity of archaeology, as shown by the numerous programmes dealing with the subject on television. Examining our eroding archaeology may give those interested in the subject the opportunity to become practically involved in their own project while helping archaeologists to retrieve valuable information before it is lost forever”.



Full programme

Session One: Coastal erosion and archaeology in Scotland Chair: Rod McCullagh, Historic Scotland

Scotland’s coast and the problem of erosion Ali Rennie, Scottish Natural Heritage

Scotland’s coastline and the effects of future climate change Professor Alastair Dawson, Coventry University

The scale of the problem: a visual tour of Scotland’s eroding archaeological sites Tom Dawson, SCAPE and the University of St Andrews

Session Two: Options for the eroding coast Chair: Patrick Ashmore, Historic Scotland

A response to erosion – defend, retreat or realign? Jim Hansom, University of Glasgow

Coastal realignment, the work of the RSPB at Nigg Bay Kenna Chisholm, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Session Three: The archaeologist’s response to the problem Chair: Neil Galbraith, HEACS

Archaeological projects and the role of local communities Eila MacQueen, Council for Scottish Archaeology

Rapid-response excavation at threatened sites Olwyn Owen, Historic Scotland

Long-term rescue projects at the coast Mary MacLeod, Local Authority Archaeologist, Western Isles

Session Four: The future for Scotland’s eroding archaeological sites Chair: Professor Christopher Smout, University St Andrews

The need for further fully-funded research excavation Julie Gibson, Local Authority Archaeologist, Orkney

The role of salvage excavation at eroding sites Robin Turner, National Trust for Scotland

The conference will be held at the St Andrews Golf Hotel, The Scores, St Andrews on Tuesday 12 October 2004, from 10am-4.30pm.

SCAPE was set up in 2001 to encourage community groups around Scotland to monitor the damage being caused by coastal erosion.

For more information/abstracts, please contact Claire Grainger, contact details below.


Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or [email protected]; Ref: press releases/SCAPE View the latest University news at

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