Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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Castle Of Burwick (6023)

Current Priority
2
East
343450
North
984250
Site Type
Promontory Fort
Period
1st millennium BC/1st millennium AD

The remains of a defended Iron Age fort and probable secondary monastic settlement occupy a small promontory surrounded by sheer cliffs. The promontory is joined to the mainland by a narrow, eroding rocky ridge. Access to the ridge is restricted by three earthen and stone banks, which extend across the greater part of the neck; a short passage between the banks lies to the S side. The banks are up to 2m high and 5m wide. A series of ditches, which originally accompanied the banks, are now visible as shallow depressions. A fourth bank is situated on the landward side of the promontory. Traces of the footings of a rectangular structure (12m N-S) can be discerned to the rear of this bank. The remains of a further ten rectangular structures, with rounded corners, are spread over the promontory. The entire promontory is badly eroded and access is hazardous. Archaeological deposits can be seen eroding from several exposures on the promontory. The largest exposure lies to the NW side, where there has been recent large-scale ground slippage. Fragments of masonry and anthropogenic soil deposits are strewn over the sheer cliff sides. Deposits of stone and a silty soil containing shell can be seen in a smaller exposure to the E side of the promontory.

ShoreUPDATE 9 May 2015

As described. The northwest corner of the promontory has sheared off in the past, exposing drystone structures and midden deposits in sections on both sides of the collapse. This appears to have been a geological collapse, although probably exacerbated by erosion at the cliff base. Only a tiny fraction of this monument is impacted, and the nature of the erosion is sudden, dramatic high, hard cliff failure along bedding planes and fault lines.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Fair
Action
Visit - check condition; characterise site and obtain dating evidence ;
Survey site - using several techniques to characterise site ;
Excavate site - targetted excavation of vulnerable areas

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Record SR72 on map South Ronaldsay: Map 5 in Report on a Coastal Zone Assessment Survey of Orkney: Burra, Flotta, Graemsay, Hoy, S. Ronaldsay, 1997

Other records:

NMRS
9561
SMR
Unknown

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

9th May, 2015 by training1
Survey Information
User:
training1
Date:
May 9, 2015
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Other threats?:
other
If other, please specify:

geological collapse

Description:

The remains of a defended Iron Age fort and probable secondary monastic settlement occupy a small promontory surrounded by sheer cliffs. The promontory is joined to the mainland by a narrow, eroding rocky ridge. Access to the ridge is restricted by three earthen and stone banks, which extend across the greater part of the neck; a short passage between the banks lies to the S side. The banks are up to 2m high and 5m wide. A series of ditches, which originally accompanied the banks, are now visible as shallow depressions. A fourth bank is situated on the landward side of the promontory. Traces of the footings of a rectangular structure (12m N-S) can be discerned to the rear of this bank. The remains of a further ten rectangular structures, with rounded corners, are spread over the promontory. The entire promontory is badly eroded and access is hazardous. Archaeological deposits can be seen eroding from several exposures on the promontory. The largest exposure lies to the NW side, where there has been recent large-scale ground slippage. Fragments of masonry and anthropogenic soil deposits are strewn over the sheer cliff sides. Deposits of stone and a silty soil containing shell can be seen in a smaller exposure to the E side of the promontory.

ShoreUPDATE 9 May 2015

As described. The northwest corner of the promontory has sheared off in the past, exposing drystone structures and midden deposits in sections on both sides of the collapse. This appears to have been a geological collapse, although probably exacerbated by erosion at the cliff base. Only a tiny fraction of this monument is impacted, and the nature of the erosion is sudden, dramatic high, hard cliff failure along bedding planes and fault lines.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
highly visible (substantial remains)
How visible are the remains? (in section):
clearly visible in section
How accessibile is the site?:
accessible on foot (footpath)
The site is:
has local associations/history
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

Re-assign to priority 3 on basis of nature of erosion and overall impact on the monument as a whole.