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Evolving spaces: coastal landscapes of the Neolithic in the European Land Ends

Final Report Summary - ESCOPES (Evolving spaces: coastal landscapes of the Neolithic in the European Land Ends)

Coastal areas have been poles of population attraction since the early Prehistory. Today, in a context where sea-level rise is threatening significant amounts of territories across the European Atlantic Façade, understanding coastal landscapes has become a crucial topic. This concern operates at the local, national and international levels, as different organisations and research calls have stressed in
the last few years. The role social sciences may play in building solutions to this problem is underestimated, and archaeological research must contribute to both the understanding of long-term
coastal dynamics and the management strategies within these areas.

In order to fulfil this double perspective the eSCOPES project implemented a coupled approach: one of basic research, one of heritage management. Its two main objectives were: 1. To contribute, through the multidisciplinary and trans-regional analysis of the archaeological evidence, to the understanding of coastal landscape construction and dynamics from the Middle Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age in Western Europe (c. 4500-2200 BC). 2. To assess vulnerability of the coastal archaeological heritage and to provide tools for its management. To reach the Objective 1 the megalithic architectures were the primary reference source. Their immanence made them highly appropriate to retrace the way landscapes have been connoted and have evolved around them. To reach the Objective 2 the research program integrated and improved the research perspective on vulnerability assessment previously initiated by the fellow. Fieldwork research, Geographical Information Technologies and photogrammetry were the main methodologies in use.

Three major regions were chosen for this research, which corresponded to some of the westernmost areas of Europe (Figure 1): the Scilly archipelago (UK), Coalen islet (Cotes d’Armor region) and the Pénestin peninsula (Morbihan region) in France, and the coastal area between Barbanza and Morrazo peninsulas (NW Spain). The project consisted of 7 tasks: Constructing tools for the management of the project (task1), Documenting the archaeological sites (task2), Modelling and mapping site spatial location (task3), Documenting approaches to coastal vulnerability (task4), Assessing vulnerability (task5), Monitoring coastal site erosion (task6), Dissemination (task7). Tasks 1 to 3 were developed during Year1. Tasks 4 to 6 were developed during Year2. Task7 was developed during Year1 and Year2.

By completing these tasks the project has reached several major achievements that are of relevance for the European Research Area (ERA):

- eSCOPES has contributed to the transnational analysis of prehistoric monumental architectures
through the analysis of the different case studies of the project (Figure 2). It has taken the discussion of specific regional areas from the traditional local and regional scales to the international (European Atlantic) scale. This localism in the research history of prehistoric monumental landscapes (López-Romero 2013) was one of the aspects that motivated the Grant Proposal.

- eSCOPES has significantly contributed to the set up of innovative methodologies for the analysis
and monitoring of eroding coastal archaeological sites, namely through the use of close-range
photogrammetry methods (Structure from Motion – SfM). The adaptation of SfM to the
archaeological analysis of coastal archaeological heritage constitutes one of the most relevant
scientific results of the project (Figures 3 to 5). It can be used by researchers and policy makers as part of the decision-making process concerning coastal heritage at risk.

- eSCOPES has contributed to build an international network on the topics covered by the project.
Through this project the fellow has consolidated the links with several British, French and Spanish institutions. In the UK, links were established since the beginning of the project with members of the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, with the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR, Durham University), with the Isles of Scilly Museum, with the Southampton Maritime Archaeology Trust, with the St. Andrews University and with the SCAPE Trust (Scotland). In Spain and France, the links with the Incipit-CSIC and the CNRS (CReAAH UMR6566, Rennes) were also
consolidated. Several research initiatives and publications have resulted from these collaborations.
The celebration of the Workshop “Current trends in coastal heritage vulnerability and resilience on the European Atlantic façade” (3rd June 2014, Durham University: https://www.dur.ac.uk/archaeology/conferences/current/currenttrends/) constitutes a relevant milestone in this sense.

- Furthermore, the celebration of the session “Engaging the public with archaeology threatened by climate change” (http://eaaglasgow2015.com/session/engaging-the-public-with-archaeology-threatened-by-climate-change/) at the next European Association of Archaeologists’ annual meeting (Glasgow, September 2015) not only confirms the success of these collaborations but it also shows how important reaching the civil society was to the project. In this sense eSCOPES also implemented an original initiative called "Guidoiro Dixital" initiative. This initiative aimed at recovering private photographic and video archives of one of the study regions (Figure 6), to integrate them into the analysis, to engage on a dialogue with local communities and to regularly provide them with information on the advances and results of the project. A series of tools were created to achieve these objectives: a HistoryPin project (http://www.historypin.com/channels/view/54782) a blog and information website (http://guidoirodixital.wordpress.com/) a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/guidoirodixital) a Google+ page (https://plus.google.com/118411261666364325005/) and a dedicated contact email address (guidoirodixital@gmail.com). This initiative was submitted as part of an application for the Communicating Science Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions Prize 2014. These public outreach activities have given further visibility to the project, contributing contribute to a better awareness of the consequences of coastal heritage loss at the national and European levels.