Scotland’s heritage on the edge
Scotland’s leading environmental and social historian highlighted the plight of the country’s threatened coastlines when he unveiled a national photographic exhibition last week (Thursday 6 September 2007).
In the presence of Michael Russell MSP, Minister for the Environment and world-renowned photographer Colin Prior, Professor Christopher Smout, Historiographer Royal in Scotland, launched the SCAPE (Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) exhibition which showcases award-winning images from the ‘Capturing the Coastline’ competition.
Earlier this year, University of St Andrews researchers seeking to preserve the country’s striking and varied coastal scenery called on adults and children to capture the coastline on camera before it is irreversibly damaged by rising tides and worsening storms. Around 1,000 photos were received, illustrating coastlines the length and breadth of Scotland, and winning entries will now tour Scotland, starting with the National Trust for Scotland Headquarters, Edinburgh.
Professor Smout, who is also Chairman of SCAPE said, “These lovely pictures show what the coast means to us. It is tragic that so much of the archaeology, which can tell us how our ancestors lived in this environment, is now at serious risk of destruction from increasing storms and sea-level change. The archaeological sites are like a book that is being torn away page by page unread – it’s our heritage that is eroding and SCAPE’s task is to get public support for recording and excavation before we lose it completely”.
Michael Russell MSP, Minister for the Environment added, “I have spent most of my life living in sight of the sea and, for me, Scotland’s coastline is infinitely varied, endlessly fascinating, in all conditions and weathers, yet also now, in many places, fragile and at risk. Celebrating it means also expressing concern for its future and motivating each and every one of us to ensure we play a part in protecting, preserving and promoting it.”
Prizes included up to £1000 for the adult, or £500 worth of prizes for the child, who captured the best image. In addition to the top prize of £1000, the runner-up won a whisky-making course at Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay. Under 18’s competed for a prize to the value of £500 plus £500 for their school, or a runner-up prize to the value of £200.
Professor Smout was hugely impressed by the entries – “The pictures of the coast taken for the competition are splendid. What alot of effort and talent! I particularly liked the contributions from the school children – that old shoe encrusted and bejewelled by little shellfish and seaweed is just brilliant”.
After its two week showing at the National Trust for Scotland, the exhibition will visit a range of other Scottish venues over a year-long period including the Scottish Parliament, the Gateway in St Andrews and various other venues across mainland Scotland and islands.
SCAPE seeks to research, conserve and promote the archaeology of Scotland’s coast. SCAPE is particularly interested in remains that are threatened by coastal erosion. It runs the award-winning Shorewatch project, which encourages and assists members of local communities to become involved in practical archaeology and help salvage threatened sites – www.shorewatch.co.uk
Professor Smout available for comment – 01333 310330.
Labhaoise McKenna, SCAPE Project Officer also available – 01334 462904 or 07784 704 979.
Jpeg images of the winning entries available on request from University Press Office – 01334 462530.
Issued by Press Office, University of St Andrews
Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email [email protected]
Gayle Cook, Press Officer – 01334 462529, 07900 050 103 or email [email protected]
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