Geophysical Surveys in Shetland

Geophysicists from the University of Leeds, in collaboration with Shetland Amenity Trust, will be conducting surveys at Old Scatness and Sands of Sound this summer, to identify potential extensions to known archaeological sites. Survey work is due to commence on Thursday 30th June and will last about a week.

Old Scatness is a world class archaeology site near Sumburgh Airport, discovered in the 1970s during excavation work to extend the runway. The site contains settlements in the form of a broch and village, spanning at least 2000 years and ranging in age from Late Bronze Age to Iron Age. There is some indirect evidence that the known site may be larger although the exact extent and nature remains unknown. The Leeds survey will target this potential extension.

At Sands of Sound, coastal erosion of the beach has exposed a wall, potentially of Neolithic origin which was discovered this year. Much less is known about this recent discovery and it is hoped that geophysics will help to delineate this settlement.

Geophysical surveys are a great way to discover more. Not only, are they a lot quicker to conduct than excavating, they are also non-invasive. In the particular case at Sands of Sound, any excavation could potentially destabilise the land and accelerate natural erosion.

The survey techniques to be used in this project include magnetometry, ground penetrating radar and electromagnetics and will be carried out by two students, supervised by Dr. Adam Booth, Lecturer in Geophysics at University of Leeds.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit the sites if they wish to find out more. The Leeds team will be more than happy to explain their techniques and answer questions. For those planning to visit, it would be worth checking beforehand to find out which site the survey team are working at – details will be added to the Shetland Amenity Trust website when the work begins, and also added to the Facebook page.

For more information, please contact Jim Henderson, Geology Project Officer at Shetland Amenity Trust on 01595 694688.