Storms could reveal new sites in Scotland

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The recent storms that hit the Scottish coastline could reveal important new archaeological sites, according to Fife scientists.

Storms could reveal new sites in Scotland
A before and after photo of what happened in a storm last year
at Brora excavation [Credit: BBC]

St Andrews University archaeologists are appealing to the public to help find sites that have been uncovered by the storms.

They also hoping people contact them to record local sites that have been damaged by the recent bad weather.

Scotland has been badly damaged by wind and rain over the last two weeks.

A few of the most famous sites in Scotland are shielded behind by sea walls, but the vast majority are unprotected and vulnerable to damage.

Tom Dawson, of St Andrews University researcher, said: “Scotland’s coast is a treasure chest of information about the past, and some of Europe’s best-preserved ancient sites were found buried in Scottish sand dunes.

“The sand has preserved sites for centuries, but recent storms have washed away parts of the coast edge, making this irreplaceable archive incredibly vulnerable.”

He added that even a small amount of erosion can cause a great deal of damage and last year, four hundred year-old salt pans, Brora’s first building, were destroyed in a storm in East Sutherland.

Scottish charity, SCAPE, fears many more sites may have been damaged after the recent storms, and is asking for help in recording what has survived and what has been lost.

‘Particularly violent’

Working with Historic Scotland and St Andrews University, their latest venture, the Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP) shows all sites found in recent surveys.

They are appealing for people to visit local sites and tell the project team if the sites have been damaged.

They are also asking for photos of sites and of stretches of beach affected during the storms.

Mr Dawson said: “The recent storms have been particularly violent, and last week, the spring tides mean that the sea was very high.

“There are already reports of changes to the coast, and in some cases, erosion has revealed new sites that we didn’t know about.

“Some of Scotland’s most famous sites were revealed after storms, and we want to know if another Skara Brae has been uncovered.

“The help of the public will help us to save Scotland’s precious heritage.”

Source: BBC News Website [December 17, 2013]

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