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Field Visit

Date March 2012 - December 2012

Event ID 992980

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


HY 387 141 and HY 294 131 (centred on) Work on Holocene sea level change in Orkney indicates that relative sea levels only reached their present position some 4000 years ago. This project which was set up in 2005 aims to:

construct a sea level curve to provide detail of former changes in relative sea level around Orkney

investigate the possibility that remains of past human settlement might be preserved on the seabed.

The project combines different strands of work including sediment coring, remote sensing, seismic survey, diving, intertidal survey, palaeoenvironmental analysis on land, in the intertidal zone and from submerged surfaces, aerial photography, archive searches, and ethnoarchaeology.

In March – December 2012 work focused on coring in the Bay of Firth with the aim of investigating organic deposits below the present seabed, perhaps indicative of a lake or lagoon prior to inundation by the sea. Preliminary analysis of the core sediments shows a clear transgression, evident in both microfossils and molluscs, from fresh water to saline. Particle size suggests a lower energy environment after inundation. Dates from this core should help to identify the date of inundation.

In the Loch of Stenness a number of anomalies were identified in 2011, in particular a long mound to the N of the Seatter embayment, and an annular feature offshore to the S of the Ring of Brodgar. Seismic survey was undertaken across these anomalies and suggested that they may be anthropogenic (archaeological) in origin. Other work focused on modelling the pre-submerged landscape of Orkney and this will continue in 2013.

Archive: Contributors (currently)

Funder: Historic Scotland, Society of Antiquaries of London, Royal Archaeological Institute and Leverhulme Trust

CR Wickham-Jones, University of Aberdeen

S Dawson, University of Dundee

R Bates, University of St Andrews

M Bates, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

D Huws, University of Bangor


People and Organisations