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Dr Steve Dockrill & Dr Julie Bond
University of Bradford
Swandro, Rousay, Orkney: Between Sea and Land

The site of Swandro is on the eroding coastal fringe of the island of Rousay, Orkney and has been the focus of field training for the next archaeological generation between the University of Bradford, Archaeological Institute UHI and Hunter College, CUNY since 2010. Such sites are a finite resource, endangered by coastal erosion exacerbated by the effects of climate change. The site straddles both the shore and the land and consists of a Neolithic Chambered Cairn and a later settlement dating from the Early Iron Age to the Norse period. Archaeological investigation of the beach, where the sea has cut into the complex depositional sequence to form a series of terraces required an adapted response. Excavation over multiple seasons has enabled an understanding of the stratigraphic sequence and the process of erosion and also the development of new methodologies to facilitate its recording before the sea destroys the surviving evidence. The evaluation and excavation of the beach has provided an understanding of past environments, structural succession, economic and industrial activities. A key element of the work is creating public awareness of this fragile but valuable resource.

Location

University of Bradford