Online seminar: The lost township of Broo – climate change or human agency in a coastal sand disaster?

Excavations of 17th century buildings at Broo Site II, Dunrossness, Shetland. (Picture: Gerry Bigelow)

Today, the latest University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute Research seminar considers geocatastrophe, using a lost Shetland township as an example.

About three hundred years ago, Broo was overwhelmed by windblown sand. The environmental catastrophe was probably not the first time that sand from the nearby Quendale Beach had caused problems, but this time the sand blew far inland and the community did not recover.

Through the history of Broo, the online seminar looks as the causes, processes and consequences of geocatastrophe.

The Shetland Islands Climate and Settlement Project (SICSP) has been investigating the causes, processes and consequences of the Broo geocatastrophe for over a decade. The coasts of Scotland and other parts of Europe offer many examples of archaeological sites and later monuments that have experienced comparable episodes of sand movements. Climate change has been proposed as a cause of these, sometimes catastrophic events, but other factors may also have played key roles.

The seminar, at 4pm on Friday, October 30, will be led by Dr Gerry Bigelow, emeritus associate professor of history, Bates College, Maine, and Visiting Reader with the UHI Archaeology Institute.

Dr Bigelow will discuss findings from the Broo research that contribute to understanding this environmental and historical phenomenon. In addition, the presentation will outline some of the challenges and opportunities that are involved in archaeologies of extreme events and buried landscapes.

For details on how to view the free online seminar, click here.