A NUMBER of Scotland’s most important archaeological sites are being lost to coastal erosion, a leading expert has warned.
• Skara Brae dependent on sea wall requiring constant maintenance
• Erosion causes the loss of valuable information about past but also future economy and livelihoods of rural population
Julie Gibson, from the University of the Highlands and Islands’ archaeology department, said a third of all known sites in Orkney were being damaged or at risk.
She added: “Scotland has the longest coastline in Europe and, as a maritime nation, much of our heritage relates to the sea.
“Around Orkney, more than a thousand archaeological sites are threatened or are being actively damaged.
“The 5,000 year old Stone Age village of Skara Brae is dependent upon a sea wall that requires constant maintenance, the medieval site of Langskaill in Westray retreated five metres in one go a few years back and a Pictish site on Lamb Holm went from being a visible building to nothing but a line of rubble.
“Such erosion not only causes us to lose valuable information about our past, but may also damage Scotland’s future economy and the livelihoods of people in remote and rural areas. If these sites receive suitable investment, they have the potential to generate finds and media interest which will attract visitors from across the globe.”
Ms Gibson, who is also Orkney’s community archaeologist, is giving a talk on the threat in Glasgow as part of the Celtic Connections festival.
She will conclude her talk by looking at opportunities to safeguard these sites to protect Scotland’s cultural heritage and contribute to our economy.
Ms Gibson’s talk, “Rising tides: climate change and the loss of our coastal heritage,” will be accompanied by music from University of the Highlands and Islands BA applied music students.
The lecture is one of a number of free Celtic Connections events organised by the University, an education partner with the festival.
Students and staff will be involved in a variety of lectures and concerts, including a debate on the origin of Scotland’s indigenous languages chaired by comedian Susan Morrison.
• ‘Rising tides: climate change and the loss of our coastal heritage’ takes place from 12:30pm to 1:30pm on Thursday