Monday, September 24, 2007


For those of you who are near Greenwich, CT, the Archaeological Associates will be having Rafe Pomerance, an expert on global warming and climate change, speak at the Bruce Museum on Thursday, October 18 at 8 pm. Free to AAG and Museum members. $10 at the door. His topic is "The Impact of Climate Change as Seen Through Archaeological Sites." The following emphasizes what Mr. Pomerance will be talking about:

More than 10,000 of the most important ancient and historical sites around Scotland's coastline are at risk of being destroyed by the storms and rising sea levels that will come with global warming. Sites in jeopardy include the neolithic settlement of Skara Brae on Orkney and the prehistoric ruins at Jarlshof on Shetland.

Others under threat range from Iron Age brochs to Mesolithic middens. New surveys for Historic Scotland reveal that the remains of communities up to 9000 years old could be lost for ever due to accelerating coastal erosion. The potential loss is incalculable and has alarmed experts. "This is a uniquely valuable and totally irreplaceable part of the nation's cultural heritage, with much still to teach us about our past," said Tom Dawson, an archaeologist at the
University of St Andrews. "The coast continues to erode. Although wildlife and the natural habitat may be able to recover, ancient sites will be destroyed forever, and the remnants of our ancestors will be lost."

Dawson manages a group called Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion (Scape), which was set up in 2001 to protect ancient shoreline sites. With the help of local Shorewatch' groups across the country, Scape has been investigating the status of the sites. So far some 30% of Scotland's coastline has been surveyed, discovering 11,500 archaeological sites of which 3500 are judged to be at risk of erosion.

Many of the archaeological sites are concentrated on Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and parts of the west coast, which are known to be particularly vulnerable to storms. Many sites have yet to be excavated and properly studied. Others are iconic and well-known remains defended by old and eroding seawalls, such as Skara Brae, Jarlshof, the Broch of Gurness on Orkney.

A conference on climate change is being organised by the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland (HEACS), which advises ministers. It will hear evidence of the widespread dangers posed by worsening weather.

Source: Sunday Herald (23 September 2007)


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