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News: Rising Sea-Levels Damage Ancient Viking Sites

Archaeologists fear for the past as weather alters

Date: 01 September 2008
By John Roberts, Education Correspondent

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are warning climate change not only poses a threat to future generations but could also damage the past by destroying remains dating back to the Bronze Age.

A conference at Bradford University has been discussing the damage global warming has done to sites of archaeological interest across the north Atlantic.

Rising sea level, coastal erosion, changing weather patterns and melting ice sheets has meant evidence of Viking settlements is being lost.

Experts from across the world have flocked to Yorkshire to discuss the problem at a conference in Bradford which finishes today.

Bradford University has staff who have been involved in archaeological research across the north Atlantic for the past 30 years and who are now working to identify sites which are at risk of being lost forever as a result of climate change.

Stephen Dockrill, Bradford University's senior lecturer in archaeology, said: "In the past archaeological finds in places like Greenland have been found in the permafrost beneath the surface frozen in time. Cloth, organic materials and textiles can be preserved but now these ice sheets are being lost.

"One of the biggest problems we are facing in the north Atlantic is rising sea level and changing weather patterns causing more coastal erosion, cutting into cliff faces where lots of archaeological sites are based.

"Bradford University have people working at a site in the Faroe Islands, where there is evidence of the very first Viking settlers who arrived there, which is being eroded. We are also seeing erosion of deposits in this country in places like the Orkney islands, with remains from the Neolithic and Bronze Age under threat."

Mr Dockrill said the damage caused by global warming to sites of historical interest had increased in the past two years.

Members of the North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation, a partnership of archaeologists, are using the conference in Bradford to report on recent fieldwork and examine the threats posed by climate change. The conference will lead to an internationally agreed agenda for archaeological research in the north Atlantic.

Source: Yorkshire Post