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Scots landmarks crumbling into sea

Some of Scotland’s most prized historical landmarks are crumbling into the sea according to a University of St Andrews researcher.

Funded by The Carnegie Trust and Historic Scotland, Tom Dawson’s study, mapping archaeological sites around the county’s coastline and assessing the damage caused by rising tides and worsening storms, has revealed that over 12,000 forts, castles and other archaeological sites along Scotland’s shoreline are disappearing into the sea.

Specific studies in Coll and Tiree, funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, have unearthed a total of 250 coastal sites with a significant number of new sites including a medieval chapel and metal-working site.

Other sites at risk include Scrabster Castle, a 12th-century bastion built by the Bishop of Caithness, sited near Thurso and Dunbar Castle, a 12th-century fort in which Mary Queen of Scots sought sanctuary after the murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley.

Mr Dawson said, “The best we can try to do in some places is to get as much information as possible, before they disappear forever. Parts of the coast are receding by up to one metre a year, and sadly some undiscovered sites are also being eroded.”

He added, “We are currently looking at all the information from existing surveys. Twenty per cent of the coast has already been studied by Historic Scotland, leaving a further eighty per cent to be examined. There are problems everywhere and we need to prioritise where we are going to look first.”

A new charity – the Scape Trust – has been set up to encourage community groups around Scotland to monitor the damage being caused. Made up of leading archaeologists, along with the Lord Lieutenant of Shetland, John Scott; Chairman of the Scottish Coastal Forum, Captain Tony Wilks; and Historiographer Royal of Scotland, Professor Chris Smout, the Trust is working with Shorewatch to encourage community groups to monitor coastal erosion.

ENDS

For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: tomdawson/standrews/chg/24dec2001

 

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