Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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Sithean Biorach (8917)

Current Priority
2
East
72935
North
819844
Site Type
Coastal Exposure With Anthropogenic Deposits
Period
10th-14th C AD

There are intermittent exposures of stonework and anthropogenic deposits along a 140m long stretch of coastline. The NGR provided above represents a central point. The exposures are visible in the face of sand dunes which have been cut vertical by the recent storm. These remains are located to the seaward side of three previously recorded Norse settlement sites (NF71NW10, 11 and 18). From the northern end of the exposure and extending for some 85m the deposits comprise mainly of loose stonework which is eroding from the exposure close to the top of the dunes. The southernmost 55m of the coastal exposure contains more organic soil deposits, up to 0.2m thick. These contain inclusions of shell, animal bone and fish bone. A decorated fragment of a bone comb, possibly of Pictish design, was recovered from this area and has been sent for specialist assessment and conservation. In places the midden deposits are situated some 2-4m above the level of the beach, over deposits of windblown sand. These deposits are thought to be associated with an extensive Norse settlement which lies in the immediate hinterland and which has been partially excavated. The interim results of this work indicate that the settlement comprised of five longhouses, together with associated outbuildings and middens and that it spanned from the late 10th C to the late 13th C AD (Brennand, M, Parker Pearson, M and Smith, H 1998 'Cille Pheadair (Kilpheder) (South Uist parish), Norse settlement and Pictish cairn' in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1998, 102-103).

ShoreUPDATE September 2014

Site as described.

Dune face stabilised following severe erosion 2005 storm event.

Update December 2015

The dunes are still deteriorating with collapse to the shore side and wind/tide erosion undermining this edge. Several areas of apparent exposed wall lines are identifiable as are several sections of dark (?ash?) lens deposits which may also contain low level midden material. There is one very significant area of exposed 'wall' at NF 72940 19852 (see associated picture)

There appears to have been some netting applied to the dune escarpment in an attempt to stabilise the structures, but this is mostly undermined and no longer achieving very much!

It would appear that animal activity, including sheep grazing, is accelerating the slippage of the dune face.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Poor
Action
Visit - check condition; characterise site and obtain dating evidence ;
Survey site - using several techniques to characterise site ;
Monitor site to report fresh exposures

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Record 21 on map SU 3 in CZAS, Grimsay, Benbecula & South Uist (west), 2005

Other records:

NMRS
Unknown
SMR
MWE149278

ShoreUpdates

2 ShoreUpdates accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

24th September, 2014 by Martyn
Survey Information
User:
Martyn
Date:
Sept. 24, 2014
Tidal state:
mid
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; active wind erosion (in dunes only); has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Other threats?:
animal burrows
Description:

There are intermittent exposures of stonework and anthropogenic deposits along a 140m long stretch of coastline. The NGR provided above represents a central point. The exposures are visible in the face of sand dunes which have been cut vertical by the recent storm. These remains are located to the seaward side of three previously recorded Norse settlement sites (NF71NW10, 11 and 18). From the northern end of the exposure and extending for some 85m the deposits comprise mainly of loose stonework which is eroding from the exposure close to the top of the dunes. The southernmost 55m of the coastal exposure contains more organic soil deposits, up to 0.2m thick. These contain inclusions of shell, animal bone and fish bone. A decorated fragment of a bone comb, possibly of Pictish design, was recovered from this area and has been sent for specialist assessment and conservation. In places the midden deposits are situated some 2-4m above the level of the beach, over deposits of windblown sand. These deposits are thought to be associated with an extensive Norse settlement which lies in the immediate hinterland and which has been partially excavated. The interim results of this work indicate that the settlement comprised of five longhouses, together with associated outbuildings and middens and that it spanned from the late 10th C to the late 13th C AD (Brennand, M, Parker Pearson, M and Smith, H 1998 'Cille Pheadair (Kilpheder) (South Uist parish), Norse settlement and Pictish cairn' in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1998, 102-103).

ShoreUPDATE September 2014

Site as described.

Dune face stabilised following severe erosion 2005 storm event.

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

Site as described.

Dune face stabilised following severe erosion 2005 storm event.

Recommendations:

Regular monitoring

12th December, 2015 by Smilemaker
Survey Information
User:
Smilemaker
Date:
Dec. 12, 2015
Tidal state:
mid
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; active wind erosion (in dunes only); has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Other threats?:
stock erosion; animal burrows
Description:

There are intermittent exposures of stonework and anthropogenic deposits along a 140m long stretch of coastline. The NGR provided above represents a central point. The exposures are visible in the face of sand dunes which have been cut vertical by the recent storm. These remains are located to the seaward side of three previously recorded Norse settlement sites (NF71NW10, 11 and 18). From the northern end of the exposure and extending for some 85m the deposits comprise mainly of loose stonework which is eroding from the exposure close to the top of the dunes. The southernmost 55m of the coastal exposure contains more organic soil deposits, up to 0.2m thick. These contain inclusions of shell, animal bone and fish bone. A decorated fragment of a bone comb, possibly of Pictish design, was recovered from this area and has been sent for specialist assessment and conservation. In places the midden deposits are situated some 2-4m above the level of the beach, over deposits of windblown sand. These deposits are thought to be associated with an extensive Norse settlement which lies in the immediate hinterland and which has been partially excavated. The interim results of this work indicate that the settlement comprised of five longhouses, together with associated outbuildings and middens and that it spanned from the late 10th C to the late 13th C AD (Brennand, M, Parker Pearson, M and Smith, H 1998 'Cille Pheadair (Kilpheder) (South Uist parish), Norse settlement and Pictish cairn' in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1998, 102-103).

ShoreUPDATE September 2014

Site as described.

Dune face stabilised following severe erosion 2005 storm event.

Update December 2015

The dunes are still deteriorating with collapse to the shore side and wind/tide erosion undermining this edge. Several areas of apparent exposed wall lines are identifiable as are several sections of dark (?ash?) lens deposits which may also contain low level midden material. There is one very significant area of exposed 'wall' at NF 72940 19852 (see associated picture)

There appears to have been some netting applied to the dune escarpment in an attempt to stabilise the structures, but this is mostly undermined and no longer achieving very much!

It would appear that animal activity, including sheep grazing, is accelerating the slippage of the dune face.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
limited visibility (partial remains)
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
How accessibile is the site?:
easily accessible- no restrictions; accessible- difficult terrain; vehicular access; accessible on foot (no footpath)
The site is:
is well known
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

If it is desired to learn more about this site, now would be a good time for intervention as there are several easily accessed areas of potential interest.