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A Multi-disciplinary Approach to the Archaeological Investigation of a Bedrock-Dominated Shallow-Marine Landscape: an example from the Bay of Firth, Orkney, UK

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle



Martin R. Bates, Nigel Nayling, C. Richard Bates, Sue Dawson, Dei Huws, Caroline Wickham-Jones

School/Research organisations


Investigation of shallow-marine environments for submerged prehistoric archaeology can be hampered in many localities by extensive bedrock exposure and thus limited preservation potential. Using the concept of 'seamless archaeology' where land-based archaeology is integrated across the intertidal zone through to the offshore, a multi-disciplinary approach is essential. This approach taken in the Bay of Firth, Orkney uses geophysics, historical archive and ethno-archaeology, coastal geomorphology, palaeo-environmental analyses and sea-level science, and allows a clearer understanding of the landscape in which prehistoric settlers lived. While acknowledging the limitations of the preserved environment, we are successful in identifying areas of archaeological potential on the sea-bed for both upstanding structural elements as well as sediment preservation that contains evidence for human occupation. This has wider implications beyond Orkney's World Heritage sites to provide a blueprint for similar studies elsewhere in the coastal zone. (C) 2012 The Authors



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-43
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Nautical Archaeology
Issue number1
Early online date2 Oct 2012
StatePublished - Mar 2013

    Research areas

  • submerged landscapes, archaeology, prehistory, bathymetry

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