New project to investigate climate change and coastal heritage in Wales and Ireland

12 January 2017

An aerial view of Ramsey island and the north Pembrokeshire coastline. Crown Copyright: The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
An aerial view of Ramsey island and the north Pembrokeshire coastline. Crown Copyright: The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

Researchers from Aberystwyth University are part of a new multi million pound European project to investigate risks of climate change to the heritage of some of Wales and Ireland’s most important coastal landscapes.

With funding of €4.1m from the EU’s Ireland-Wales programme, the project is being led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales based in Aberystwyth.

It is hoped the CHERISH project (Climate, Heritage and Environments of Reefs, Islands and Headlands) will also provide a stimulus for economic growth in coastal communities in Wales and Ireland.

The project will focus on the headlands and islands around Pembrokeshire, Cardigan Bay and the Llŷn Peninsula, and sites along the south and east coast of Ireland.

Cutting-edge technologies will be used to analyse coastal and island archaeology and maritime heritage sites most affected by climate change, coastal erosion, storms and rising sea levels.

The project will fund new excavations, records of environmental change, marine mapping and landscape modelling. 

It will support future strategies on climate change by providing a deeper understanding of longer-term changes to Wales and Ireland’s heritage and coastal environments which attract thousands of visitors each year.

The project will also provide information to support the development of tourism opportunities through training and public events.

Aberystwyth University’s contribution to the partnership will focus on the development of high resolution records of environmental change from sedimentary and historical records, and is being led by Dr Sarah Davies, a Reader in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences (DGES).

“This is a great opportunity for us at Aberystwyth University to work together with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, on what is our largest collaboration to date” said Dr Davies, whose team from DGES includes Professor Helen Roberts, Professor Geoff Duller, Professor Henry Lamb, Dr Hywel Griffiths and Dr Cerys Jones.

“Working with our Irish partners and coastal communities to investigate the long term impacts of climatic and environmental change, we aim to contribute to a deeper understanding of these dynamic coastal landscapes and provide answers which will help safeguard heritage for the future.”

The announcement of the €4.1m project was made by Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford on Wednesday 11 January 2017.

“This project brings Wales and Ireland together to tackle some of our shared challenges around climate and environmental changes in our coastal regions.

“It’s very important that heritage sites and assets under threat from climate change are protected, and I’m pleased this investment will also support new opportunities for the tourism sector in both nations.”

The Irish Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, T.D. said: 

“This project is an excellent example of how new technologies can be used  to address emerging issues such as climate change and its impact on our shared heritage and marine environment.  It also underscores the importance of cross-border cooperation and support from the European Union for such cooperation.”

Also working in partnership on the project led by the Royal Commission are the Discovery Programme: Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland, and Geological Survey, Ireland.

Christopher Catling, Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, said: “This is an exciting new project. CHERISH brings a strong partnership of archaeologists, geoscientists and maritime specialists to bear on the significant challenges posed by climate change to the historic environment.

“The project will also enable us for the first time to undertake fieldwork on some of Wales and Ireland’s richest archaeological landscapes, which we believe will open up many new and exciting opportunities for coastal and heritage tourism across both nations.”

In addition to €4.1m of EU funds, CHERISH is being co-financed by €1.1m from the participating organisations.

Contacts

Dr Sarah Davies
DGES
Aberystwyth University
01970 622585 | sjd@aber.ac.uk

Esther Prytherch
Communications and Public Affairs
Aberystwyth University
01970 622365 | 07968 593078 | ejp14@aber.ac.uk