2.3 Strategic Environmental Assessment for Submerged Archaeology

Figure 1: The Scottish coastal and off-shore waters, divided for the purposes of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) regions, in order that they could be evaluated for cultural heritage potential © BERR.

The Scottish coastal and off-shore waters, divided for the purposes of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) regions, in order that they could be evaluated for cultural heritage potential © BERR.

Scottish waters contain a large range of potential sites for preservation of archaeological material.  Sites can be broadly classified into a number of different types based on morphology of the landscape, the glacial history and the nature of deposits.  Over the last 5 years the Aggregate Levy Sustainability fund[see note 1], managed by English Heritage, has provided support for a number of projects around the coast of the UK in English Territorial Waters aimed at producing wide area seascapes. 

Seascapes [see note 2] include evaluations of both the present day archaeological heritage at the seafloor and an evaluation of palaeo-landscapes.  No seascape type study has yet been conducted in Scottish Waters however a suite of studies has been undertaken by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR, formally the DTI) in the form of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) of North Sea Areas. The relevant areas for Scotland include SEA regions 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7.  For each of these an evaluation of the archaeological potential of the shelf and near-shore areas has been made although the earlier reviews, in particular for regions 2, 4, 5 and 6 are somewhat outdated in terms of information from the most recent surveys and analysis. 

The review forms a useful basis to begin considering the offshore areas of Scotland, however, additional detail is suggested where specific land or sea features are known to be of importance.

[note 1] Other activity under the ALSF programme included reviews of methodologies for conducting onshore-offshore landscape reconstructions. See for example work in the Arun to Solent areas (Bates et al. 2008; Momber Dix ) and other projects in the Black Sea (Ryan and Pitman 2000; Ballard et al. 2000), Florida Gulf (Stight 1986; Faught 1988) and Gulf of Arabia (Lambeck 1996).

[note 2] The Seascapes programme was designed to extend the historic landscape characterization to England’s coastal and marine zones. For a review of the overall programme see Seascapes Review, ALSF 5254MAIN: http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/archive/seascapes_eh_2008/, while specific regions are also available, e.g. Solent and Isle of Wight http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/archive/ehssolent_eh_2007/

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