Bute illustrates the indented nature of Scotland's coastline. The bay in the foreground has been occupied since the Bronze Age and the rich resources in the area attest to the location of the power base of Iron Age Dunagoil fort, in the distance. The monastic centre of Kingarth lies immediately to the right of the image, ©RCAHMS
Gale (2000) noted that there were five principal uses of the coast, including transport (including all types of boat and their associated docks, cleared ways and slipways); resource exploitation (including fishing, quarrying and the production of salt from sea water); defence (including castles, ramparts and anti-glider traps); leisure (including coastal golf links, piers and promenades); and waste disposal (including shell & other coastal middens and sewage outfalls).
Whereas this can provide a useful basic structure, it artificially separates connected phenomena and is not holistic in the same way as the ‘Source to Sea’ approach advocated in this framework. A large number of additions could be added to these five classes, including for example habitation sites and places of worship and burial grounds, as a manifestation of the importance of the coast and the sea in religious terms. In fact, almost every type of site found inland will have its equivalent at the coast, which raises an interesting question - should a coastal. intertidal and maritime hinterland research framework only include sites which are specific to the coast and would not be found elsewhere? If the answer to this is yes, then what of intertidal sites that were once inland, but now sit on the beach due to the dynamic nature of the coast? Or those sites buried under sand, an environment both formed and shifting due to coastal processes? What of dwelling houses at the coast edge, built end-on as protection against the prevailing wind?
A flexible approach is therefore needed that moves beyond strict categorisation. Where structure is required, the headings used to provide a framework for the coastal. intertidal and maritime hinterland will be as flexible as possible, and should not be seen as purely self-contained.