The coastline between Castlemartin to Stackpole Warren area is well known for its impressive high limestone cliffs upon which many prehistoric promontory forts were built. Many of these sites have suffered in the past from coastal erosion, with some sites now almost entirely lost to the sea. The sand dunes at Stackpole Warren are also extremely interesting and contain valuable information relating to how weather patterns have changed in the past and how they shaped the coastal landscape we see today. The sand dunes have also covered and preserved important Bronze and Iron Age archaeological sites.
Castlemartin Promontory Forts
Within this area CHERISH are monitoring and researching five promontory forts: Linney Head, Flimston Bay, Crocksydam, Crickmail Down, and Buckspool Down. Each is unique in the nature of the landscape it occupies and the ways in which they were constructed. Through using a combination of UAV and analytical earthwork surveys CHERISH is not only monitoring recent erosion but also researching some of the many outstanding archaeological questions previously not addressed.
In the east of the project area is the extensive system of sand dunes known as Stackpole Warren. Unusually, the dunes here are situated on top of high limestone cliffs which rise to around 20m above sea-level. The Warren is rich in archaeological evidence of occupation from the Mesolithic to the Roman Period. Excavations have indicated that the sand was mobilised in at least two distinct phases, the first in the Late Bronze age and then intermittent sand movement during the Iron Age to Romano British Period.
CHERISH has recovered cores from three areas on Stackpole Warren, which will be dated using Optical Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) to improve our understanding of when these sand movement events took place. It may also be possible to determine over what sort of timescales sand deposition took place. Through this work CHERISH hopes to stimulate a wider appreciation of the lives of the early inhabitants in this area, and the climatic challenges they encountered.
Why are we working here?
Coastal erosion has had a noticeable impact upon the archaeology in this region where large proportions of sites haven fallen into the sea. CHERISH is working in this area to provide baseline data for sites that have seen little attention from archaeologists in the past. Archaeological and paleoenvironmental research will also draw wider conclusions about regional patterns of climatic variability in the past as well as identify the main processes causing the erosion.