Coastal Zone Assessment
The coastlines of Wales and Ireland form an extensive stretch of landscape, and coastal zone assessments provide a rapid, though detailed, method of gathering information on the historic environment, on the geology and geomorphology of the coast and on erosion at a given point in time.
Since the 1990s Coastal Zone Assessments have been undertaken in Wales, Scotland and England which follow a broadly similar methodology of:
- Desk Based Assessment – To identify the archaeological resource, utilising historic environment records, mapping, aerial photography and other datasets such as LiDAR.
- Field Survey – Where a team of archaeologists and in some cases geologists walk the coast recording its geology and geomorphology and assess its erosion status; and locate, verify, identify and record archaeological features and their erosion status. This is a rapid survey using maps, a recording form and photography to provide a visual record and basic level of survey.
- Reporting – The production of a report outlining the survey area, methodology, results and recommendations with accompanying maps and gazetteer’s. Data relating to archaeological sites and monuments is also often incorporated into the relevant Historic Environment Records.
Examples of Coastal Zone Assessments
Information gathered through coastal zone assessments provide an incredibly valuable baseline dataset on the stability of the coast, the nature and extent of archaeology in the coastal zone, the threats and rates of erosion to that archaeology along with recommendations for the appropriate management of it. One outcome of these assessments has been initiatives such as Arfordir in Wales, SCHARP (Scotland’s Coastal heritage at Risk Project) in Scotland and CITiZAN (the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network) in England which work with individuals and communities to provide additional data and longer term monitoring of the archaeology in the coastal zone. SCHARP and CITiZAN use an App which allows volunteers to gather and submit information, and a similar App is being developed by CHERISH for Ireland and Wales.
Activities in Ireland
Activities in Wales
In Wales, we’ve used CHERISH Lidar gathered on 6 islands –Skerries, Puffin, Bardsey, Tudwals and Grassholm as our principal baseline dataset, creating new archaeological maps that are then verified on the ground. During island visits we’re also walking the coastline to record geology and geomorphology, and assess erosion status.