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.

Coastal area of Flimston, Wales

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 standardised recording form, in many areas standardised terminology 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.

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.

techniques rcza 1

CHERISH will be undertaking coastal zone assessments within our study areas. For Ireland and the islands of Wales this will provide a baseline dataset, whereas for mainland Wales it will provide a new epoch of comparative data to that recorded by the Welsh Archaeological Trusts in the coastal zone assessments of 1993 to 1998.