Fort George is one of the mightiest artillery fortifications in Britain, but its defences are no match to the power of Mother Nature.

Aerial image of Fort George

A weary traveller will always have something to behold in the Scottish isles. This home nation has always been fortunate that it is rich in archaeological treasures and natural beauty, but in recent months there has been concern over the preservation of these landmarks.



The fort, built for George II’s army in 1746 may have ultimate defence against Jacobite unrest, but on the occasion of bad weather tourists have been turned away due to adverse weather conditions.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has begun issuing high risk warnings for seventy percent of the sites it oversees with 1/5th of its sites being at an “unacceptable level of risk exposure that requires immediate mitigating action.”*

Birsay Causeway is another Scottish Treasure, but its access its already fairly limited, and with rising waters it is becoming a challenge for agencies who protect these landmarks.

A single database that has collated the work efforts of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and the British Geological Survey has assessed that the fragile condition of these landmarks are at huge risk from the heavier rainfall, flooding, coastal erosion, and drier seasons.




David Harkin who works with the Conservation Directorate at HES, has explained in a recent piece that as climate change increases, so will the amount of rainfall experienced in Scotland, being that “since the 1960s, annual totals have increased by approximately 20%” These drastic changes in weather have caused conservation bodies to begin worrying about efforts to protect various sites across the country. This is alongside fears of funding, as HES has faced a 8% cut in grants.*

The drastic changes to the environment does not only affect Scottish archaeological heritage. The United Kingdom alongside the rest of Europe now faces problems the impact of the digital shift, environmental and physical pressures. This year we have the opportunity to draw from collaboration and ensure the cultural relationships that have shaped over the years will continue to define Europe.

Historic Environment Scotland have just published has just its first ever Climate Change Risk Assessment. Click here for more information.

More work from David Harkin can be found here.

*(Carrell, Severin, ‘Scotland’s historic sites at high risk from climate change’, Guardian, January 15th 2018.)




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