Rescue Dig of the Year 2012

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Congratulations to Sea of Troubles: Scotland’s Eroding Heritage, winner of the Rescue Dig of the Year 2012.

Featured in CA 259, Scotland’s frequently turbulent weather has uncovered archaeological treasures like Skara Brae but can also cause terrible damage, with many sites now threatened by coastal erosion. For the last decade SCAPE (Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) has been working with national and local organisations to record coastal sites before they are lost to the sea forever.

The award was accepted by Tom Dawson from SCAPE, who said the following:

‘We are just about to start a new project, so this award was very well  timed. There are so many sites at risk, and this will help show people that  protecting them is really worthwhile work.’


Rescue archaeology is carried out in areas revealed or threatened by development, or else involves taking preventative measures on a previously unexcavated site. The other nominees below, each featured in CA in the last year, help highlight the vital importance of this work.

Roman remains at Cockermouth

(CA 255 — Grampus Heritage/North Pennines Archaeology)

The devastating floods that swept Cumbria two years ago left destruction in their wake but also uncovered previously-unknown archaeological remains. Subsequent investigations revealed a remarkable range of Roman roads, ditches and both domestic and industrial buildings across the floodplain.

Heathrow’s everyday landscape

(CA 256 — Framework Archaeology)

Before Heathrow’s Terminal 5 was built, some 80 hectares of land were excavated in one of the largest ever archaeological investigations in Britain. Eight years of fieldwork uncovered sweeping evidence of a landscape evolving over 8000 years of occupation.

Bedlam burials

(CA 257 — Crossrail)

Although founded in 1247 as a place of quiet prayer, the priory of St Mary of Bethlehem, later known as ‘Bedlam’, would become Britain’s most notorious lunatic asylum. Archaeologists excavating the site of a new ticket hall for Liverpool St Station discovered hundreds of skeletons interred beneath the London tarmac. Were these the remains of the institution’s unfortunate inmates?

Aberdeen’s Mither Kirk

(CA 258 — Aberdeen City Council Archaeological Unit)

Excavations beneath Aberdeen’s Kirk of St Nicholas revealed the remains of four previous churches and seven centuries of burials. Almost 900 skeletons were uncovered, spanning the 11th-18th centuries, provided vital clues to how the diet, health and lifestyles of the area’s residents had changed over time.




  1. Aberdeen are very proud of Ali Cameron and her team’s work at St Nicholas Kirk, Aberdeen.
    She made archaeology accessible to all and the people of the city enjoyed being involved with the various presentations that were well advertised and open to everyone.

  2. To dig, or not to dig, that is the question:
    Whether ’tis easier in the mind to lose all
    Through winds and tides of outrageous erosion,
    Or to take up trowels against a Sea of troubles,
    And by excavating, record them: to research, to publish……that’s the rub

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