Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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Biggings (6128)

Current Priority
2
East
344400
North
1050440
Site Type
Mounds And Possible Settlement Debris
Period
3rd-1st millennium BC

(i) A slight mound lies inland from a coastal exposure containing archaeological deposits. The mound is amorphous and has no distinguishing features. The exposure extends for 13m and stands up to 1.2m high. The visible archaeological deposits chiefly comprise loose stonework, apparently representing a wall aligned parallel to the modern shoreline. This is covered by soil deposits containing inclusions of peat ash and charcoal and latterly by shell midden. There are further deposits of peat ash beneath the wall. The coastal section has slumped to either side of the visible deposits and thus their full extent could not be determined. These deposits lie above a soft till which is being washed out by the sea, threatening further collapse. It is probable that these remains are derived from a more extensive prehistoric settlement although further assessment will be required to determine this. (ii) The 18th-20th farmstead at Biggings is situated over a large mound. This mound lies over 100m from the coast. It is at least 40m in diameter and stands to an average height of 2m. It may be a farm mound or a settlement mound.

06/07/2014 ShoreUPDATE Wall perpendicular to coast edge, associated with possible paving slabs and at least 2 thin layers of ash. A possible 2nd wall would form a rectangular structure of approx. 4 m wide. Associated with the structural remains are frequent fire-cracked stone in a dark grey sandy matrix containing frequent charcoal, broken limpet shell, fish bone and fragmented animal bone. No pottery noted. In the northern end of the section, modern (ish), probably 19th century dumping including leather shoe, glass, fe objs is slumping over the ash layers.

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 - test pitting

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Record WT20 on map Westray: Map 1 in Orkney Coastal Zone Assessment Survey 1998: Westray, Papa Westray, Holm of Papa Westray, West Mainland, 1998

Other records:

NMRS
295174
SMR
Unknown

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

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6th July, 2014 by training1
Survey Information
User:
training1
Date:
July 6, 2014
Tidal state:
mid
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Description:

(i) A slight mound lies inland from a coastal exposure containing archaeological deposits. The mound is amorphous and has no distinguishing features. The exposure extends for 13m and stands up to 1.2m high. The visible archaeological deposits chiefly comprise loose stonework, apparently representing a wall aligned parallel to the modern shoreline. This is covered by soil deposits containing inclusions of peat ash and charcoal and latterly by shell midden. There are further deposits of peat ash beneath the wall. The coastal section has slumped to either side of the visible deposits and thus their full extent could not be determined. These deposits lie above a soft till which is being washed out by the sea, threatening further collapse. It is probable that these remains are derived from a more extensive prehistoric settlement although further assessment will be required to determine this. (ii) The 18th-20th farmstead at Biggings is situated over a large mound. This mound lies over 100m from the coast. It is at least 40m in diameter and stands to an average height of 2m. It may be a farm mound or a settlement mound.

06/07/2014 ShoreUPDATE Wall perpendicular to coast edge, associated with possible paving slabs and at least 2 thin layers of ash. A possible 2nd wall would form a rectangular structure of approx. 4 m wide. Associated with the structural remains are frequent fire-cracked stone in a dark grey sandy matrix containing frequent charcoal, broken limpet shell, fish bone and fragmented animal bone. No pottery noted. In the northern end of the section, modern (ish), probably 19th century dumping including leather shoe, glass, fe objs is slumping over the ash layers.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
not visible
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
How accessibile is the site?:
easily accessible- no restrictions
The site is:
don't know
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

Some change since the 1998 survey. Located behind storm beach on very exposed coast. The site doesn't appear prehistoric in the character of the masonry or midden deposits. It would be useful to investigate further for dating. Re-assign to Priority 2.