Understanding damage due to sea level rise in Orkney: the results of recent work


Orkney is a Scottish archipelago, with a maritime cultural landscape spanning some 6,000 years. The archaeological evidence related to this long habitation is amongst the most complete in Northwest Europe. Three-dimensional stone architecture and frequently benign soil conditions contribute to very good preservation of individual sites in their landscapes and the UNESCO inscription of The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site recognizes this. A few sites were protected in the last century against marine erosion but more than 900 others remain vulnerable or actually are eroding. How can we mitigate this trend?

Sea level rise since the Neolithic has slowed but is still present, contributing to local inundation. The observable and dramatic increase in erosion resulting from the effects of a steady upward trend in wind speeds in the North Atlantic is discussed at two scales. The first is an archipelago-wide view of current changes and the second discusses the complexities of an individual site and the processes of erosion. Innovative methodologies, including laser scanning the foreshore before and after the winter months, are combined with intensive excavation and recording of the beach and its buried deposits.

Cite this Record

Understanding damage due to sea level rise in Orkney: the results of recent work. Julie Bond, Julie Gibson, Stephen Dockrill, Ruth Maher, Robert Friel. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403133)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;