Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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King's Craig (6367)

Current Priority
1
East
348400
North
1050620
Site Type
Settlement
Period
Indeterminate

Substantial archaeological deposits and structural remains are exposed in the coastal section around the headland at Whitehowe. The cliff stands up to 4m high and, of this, up to 2m is comprised of archaeological deposits. The exposure extends for about 30m. At the base of the section, glacial till is covered by a cultivation soil, which in turn is covered by a layer of blown sand. The earliest structural remains visible in the section are built over this layer of sand. They comprise a flagged surface, associated with up to three separate structures and a series of stone-lined drains. The walls of the structures vary in construction; one is double faced with a hollow core, others appear to be revetted. The impression gained is that the structures are conjoined or closely associated. Layers of anthropogenic soils and midden-type deposits surround and fill into the structures, and there is some indication of a secondary phase of construction. Further deposits of shell midden and agricultural soils fill into the uppermost structures and render the area level. Although the deposits exposed at this site are extensive, they are not capable of ready interpretation. The earliest remains relate to cultivation while later remains suggest a substantial settlement which was occupied over long duration. At the abandonment of the settlement, the area appears to have been farmed once again. The farmstead which now occupies part of the site is of 18-20th C date. The later structures visible in section are reminiscent of Viking or Norse buildings, but this can not be conclusively demonstrated with the available evidence. Since this phase of activity occurs at an intermediate stage in the life of the site, it is probable that the earlier remains may be of prehistoric date. The remains have already been affected by coastal erosion and very vulnerable to further losses. It is very unlikely, given its physical circumstances and extent that this site can be provided with coastal defences and therefore it must be assessed, excavated or abandoned. As a first step, it is recommended that an assessment should be carried out as a matter of urgency to ascertain the extent, date and nature of the remains.

ShoreUPDATE 13 May 2015 As described. Soils, paving, walling and midden visible in section. Dumping of modern material over coast edge at north and south ends of site. The site is actively eroding and vulnerable.

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 - open area

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Record PWT59 on map Papa Westray: Map 2 in Orkney Coastal Zone Assessment Survey 1998: Westray, Papa Westray, Holm of Papa Westray, West Mainland, 1999

Other records:

NMRS
2853
SMR
Unknown

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

13th May, 2015 by training1
Survey Information
User:
training1
Date:
May 13, 2015
Tidal state:
low
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:

Substantial archaeological deposits and structural remains are exposed in the coastal section around the headland at Whitehowe. The cliff stands up to 4m high and, of this, up to 2m is comprised of archaeological deposits. The exposure extends for about 30m. At the base of the section, glacial till is covered by a cultivation soil, which in turn is covered by a layer of blown sand. The earliest structural remains visible in the section are built over this layer of sand. They comprise a flagged surface, associated with up to three separate structures and a series of stone-lined drains. The walls of the structures vary in construction; one is double faced with a hollow core, others appear to be revetted. The impression gained is that the structures are conjoined or closely associated. Layers of anthropogenic soils and midden-type deposits surround and fill into the structures, and there is some indication of a secondary phase of construction. Further deposits of shell midden and agricultural soils fill into the uppermost structures and render the area level. Although the deposits exposed at this site are extensive, they are not capable of ready interpretation. The earliest remains relate to cultivation while later remains suggest a substantial settlement which was occupied over long duration. At the abandonment of the settlement, the area appears to have been farmed once again. The farmstead which now occupies part of the site is of 18-20th C date. The later structures visible in section are reminiscent of Viking or Norse buildings, but this can not be conclusively demonstrated with the available evidence. Since this phase of activity occurs at an intermediate stage in the life of the site, it is probable that the earlier remains may be of prehistoric date. The remains have already been affected by coastal erosion and very vulnerable to further losses. It is very unlikely, given its physical circumstances and extent that this site can be provided with coastal defences and therefore it must be assessed, excavated or abandoned. As a first step, it is recommended that an assessment should be carried out as a matter of urgency to ascertain the extent, date and nature of the remains.

ShoreUPDATE 13 May 2015 As described. Soils, paving, walling and midden visible in section. Dumping of modern material over coast edge at north and south ends of site. The site is actively eroding and vulnerable.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (in section):
clearly visible in section
How accessibile is the site?:
accessible on foot (no footpath)
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

Reassign to priority 1*