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Orkney Coastal Survey, Sanday and North Ronaldsay

The aim of the survey was to characterise the built heritage and archaeology of the coastal zone. To achieve this, all previously known sites were revisited and assessed for change. New sites were also located, identified and recorded. Site vunerability to erosion was assessed. Sites of all types and periods within the coastal zone were investigated.

This survey was limited in scope; its purpose was to rapidly locate and assess all sites within the coastal zone. While not exhaustive, the data collected should, however, be sufficient to generally characterise each of teh sites identified and to facilitate its re-location by others in the future.

A survey of the geology and geomorphology of the coastal zone was carried out simultaneously with the archaeological survey. This part of the work was designed to characterise the natural background of teh survey areas. The data gathered at this stage will provide a benchmark from which to assess future coastal change and to predict the possible effect this may have on the archaeology and built heritage.


The entire coastline of the survey areas was walked over and was inspected from both the hinterland and foreshore, where possible. On occasion, especially on rough or hilly ground where visibility was impaired, it proved necessary to conduct the survey using transects set at regular intervals and perpendicular to the coast.

The dimensions and characteristics of each site were recorded and a measured sketch plan and photographic record was made. Measurements were calculated with a tape for smaller sites, while the dimensions of larger sites were estimated by systematically pacing out the area. Directions were found using a compass. The sites were located onto a 1:25,000 OS Pathfinder base map, measured, where possible, from fixed features such as field boundaries.