Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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Bay Of Lopness/Newark Settlement Mound (6681)

Current Priority
1
East
372403
North
1042531
Site Type
Coastal Exposure, Mounds, (?) Fish Trap
Period
Possibly 10-14th C

Substantial archaeological deposits are exposed in an extensive erosion face to the seaward side of a large mound. The exposure measures some 50m in length overall, with the central 15m containing the greatest depth of deposits. The visible archaeological deposits are up to 1m thick and may be even more extensive since the base of the section is obscured by drifts of windblown sand. In the main, the deposits comprise successive layers of anthropogenic soils with inclusions of shell, charcoal, fish and mammal bone. One very distinctive layer contains frequent fish bone which was seen to include a number of entire articulated skeletons. The rocky intertidal area in front of the section face, Long Taing of Newark, has several linear concentrations of stone which appear to have been artificially set in place, possibly to form a fish trap. One possible interpretation may be that fish-processing was carried out at this site and that it was associated with the nearby settlement at Newark (SY35), which appears to be of Viking/Norse date.

ShoreUPDATE 9th Feb 2014: The site has been affected by coastal erosion over the last 2 months. Less than half of the mound now survives. Structures are now visible as follows:

From S-N from modern drain outlet; 1. Two parallel walls built at modern beach level, cross sectioned by erosion (photo 3). This is S of main midden deposits. 2. N of parallel walls and main midden deposits, apparently separated from it by band of sand - a series of drystone walls, unclear if circular/rectilinear, but one distinct dog-leg is clear (photos 4,5,11). These structures are at modern beach level. 3. Rectilinear structures? Norse type - two are visible, one overlying the above-described drystone walls and at least one to the N of this (photos 11,15,16,17). These structures are c.1m above current beach level, seemingly built on windblown sand.

This site relates to NMRS sites 306538 AND 313943

ShoreUPDATE March 2016:

Structures more visible since the previous visit in May 2015. A further structure (Site 13229) is now visible eroding from the base of the dune c. 15 metres north of the main complex.

Comparison ofthe 1900 OS and current satellite imagery shows that coastline here has retreated by 25-30m. Dry stone structures at the top of the section are almost certainly the remains of 18th/19th century buildings mapped on the 1st and 2nd edition OS, now eroding.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Fair/poor
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 SY34 on map Sanday: Map 3 in Orkney Coastal Survey: Sanday & North Ronaldsay, 1999

Other records:

NMRS
306538
SMR
Unknown

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

9th February, 2014 by cparker
Survey Information
User:
cparker
Date:
Feb. 9, 2014
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 are exposed in an extensive erosion face to the seaward side of a large mound. The exposure measures some 50m in length overall, with the central 15m containing the greatest depth of deposits. The visible archaeological deposits are up to 1m thick and may be even more extensive since the base of the section is obscured by drifts of windblown sand. In the main, the deposits comprise successive layers of anthropogenic soils with inclusions of shell, charcoal, fish and mammal bone. One very distinctive layer contains frequent fish bone which was seen to include a number of entire articulated skeletons. The rocky intertidal area in front of the section face, Long Taing of Newark, has several linear concentrations of stone which appear to have been artificially set in place, possibly to form a fish trap. One possible interpretation may be that fish-processing was carried out at this site and that it was associated with the nearby settlement at Newark (SY35), which appears to be of Viking/Norse date.

ShoreUPDATE 9th Feb 2014: The site has been affected by coastal erosion over the last 2 months. Less than half of the mound now survives. Structures are now visible as follows:

From S-N from modern drain outlet; 1. Two parallel walls built at modern beach level, cross sectioned by erosion (photo 3). This is S of main midden deposits. 2. N of parallel walls and main midden deposits, apparently separated from it by band of sand - a series of drystone walls, unclear if circular/rectilinear, but one distinct dog-leg is clear (photos 4,5,11). These structures are at modern beach level. 3. Rectilinear structures? Norse type - two are visible, one overlying the above-described drystone walls and at least one to the N of this (photos 11,15,16,17). These structures are c.1m above current beach level, seemingly built on windblown sand.

ShoreUPDATE March 2016:

Structures more visible since the previous visit in May 2015. A further structure (Site 13229) is now visible eroding from the base of the dune c. 15 metres north of the main complex.

Comparison ofthe 1900 OS and current satellite imagery shows that coastline here has retreated by 25-30m. Dry stone structures at the top of the section are almost certainly the remains of 18th/19th century buildings mapped on the 1st and 2nd edition OS, now eroding.

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?:
accessible- difficult terrain
The site is:
is well known
Comments and recommendations
Comments:

Relates to NMRS sites 306538 and 313943 - which are probably the same site

Recommendations:

Very unstable- continued regular recording. Assess for rescue excavation and sampling to clarify period and nature of activity.

This site is actively eroding and extremely vulnerable. Assign to the highest priority 1* status. Nothing is known about this site and urgent evaluation to establish an age model and potential of the deposits is required.