Climate change endangers Scotland's archaeological treasures

(10 Oct 2019) Ancient British structures older than the pyramids are being threatened by climate change, experts have warned, as rising sea levels, heavier rainfall and severe weather events endanger Scotland’s archaeological treasures.

The Orkney Islands, situated off the north coast of the Scottish mainland, are home to more than 3,000 historical sites.

Evidence has been found of human habitation there going back 8,500 years. Some buildings on the islands date to the Iron Age, Viking rule and medieval times.

But around 1,000 sites are situated on the coastline and are under threat.

One such site is the Iron Age building South Howe Broch on the island of Rousay. Dating from between 600-400AD, the sea has taken much of the site’s western area. Now the broch wall itself is falling into the sea.

Julie Gibson, a lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Islands, says it will eventually disappear.

“What you can see just over here is the front door of the broch, exposed by the sea, taking away parts of the ruins and leaving a built wall still intact. And each year a little more falls as the sea batters it,” she said as she stood on the cliff’s edge.

“What we have discovered in recent years, through the use of geophysics and other things, is that... on this stretch of the coastline, all the settlement archaeology is within 100 meters of the coast edge. And so as the sea takes this heritage of ours away it’s taking all that we have,” she said.  

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, 10 Oct 2019: Climate change endangers Scotland's archaeological treasures