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Scotland's eroding heritage: A collaborative response to the impact of climate change



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Graham, Ellie 
Hambly, Joanna 
Dawson, Tom 


Scotland’s coastline contains a wealth of archaeological sites, thousands of which are being impacted by coastal erosion, accelerated by climate change. A series of government-sponsored Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (CZAS) took the first steps in targeting vulnerable areas and recorded not only the heritage assets but also the vulnerability of the coast edge; assessing the geology, geomorphology and erosion risk. Covering 40% of the Scottish coastline, these surveys recorded 12,000 heritage sites. A prioritisation process by SCAPE took account of each site’s value, vulnerability and condition, refining this dataset and classifying nearly 1,000 sites as requiring attention. Recognising that site condition can change rapidly in the dynamic coastal zone, SCAPE initiated the Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP) in 2012. Employing a citizen science approach to recording and monitoring the resource, they worked with members of the local community to update and enhance the prioritised CZAS dataset. Monitoring alone does not save sites, so the project has also worked with community groups to undertake action at locally-valued sites. As preservation in situ is impractical or impossible in many coastal locations, the main aim has been to rescue as much information as possible from these sites. A variety of strategies, from innovative digital recording and excavation to relocating and reconstructing sites have been deployed. This paper will highlight methods used to record and prioritise action at the diverse range of Scottish coastal heritage. It will use SCHARP as a case study to describe a methodology monitoring and protecting the resource and present examples of fragile intertidal sites vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.



archaeology, climate change, Scotland, coastal erosion, community, survey, heritage

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Archaeological Review from Cambridge

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Archaeological Review from Cambridge

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