Coastal Erosion as an Arena for Change

Author(s): Jane Downes; Ingrid Mainland

Year: 2017


The problem facing archaeological heritage through loss and damage caused by rising sea levels and increased storminess requires responses that are multi-facetted and creative. Sufficient resources to deal with exposed archaeological sites and deposits through established ‘preservation by record’ methodologies are not available anywhere. In the Scottish archipelago of Orkney the combination of sand and low lying shores and extremely rich archaeological heritage make the problems of coastal erosion particularly acute. Multi-period sites are cut through by erosion, revealing sections through buildings and middens representing ‘deep time’, as frequently 5000 years of occupation are visible. This paper describes a multidisciplinary and participatory approach to developing an understanding of the coastal erosion of archaeological heritage within wider contexts of debate around climate change and sustainability. The potential of creative and educative ‘uses’ of the eroding coastal archaeological resource, are seen as complementary to the sites’ value as ‘distributed observing networks of the past’. The application of this approach is discussed using case studies from Orkney, and from Rapa Nui.

Cite this Record

Coastal Erosion as an Arena for Change. Jane Downes, Ingrid Mainland. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428977)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17224