In order to help understand the resource better, Historic Scotland has sponsored a series of Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (CZAS). These record baseline data on archaeological sites, geological and geomorphological data and information on the erosion status of the coast. The surveys adhered to guidelines published by Historic Scotland (Historic Scotland 1996) and reporting was achieved through a series of maps and gazetteers. All CZAS reports have been digitised and are accessible on the SCAPE Trust’s website (www.scapetrust.org/reports/).
To date, over 4,500km (30%) of the coast has been surveyed, recording c. 11,500 sites. The data is available on an interactive map on the SCAPE Trust’s website, but a large number of sites are yet to be added to local or national archives. This information, coupled with SMR and RCAHMS database records, is vital for coastal research.
CZAS data collected before 2000 has been summarised (Dawson 2003) and a second study, which includes all sites located since 2000, has highlighted variability in the surveys and has made recommendations for future survey methodology (Dawson 2007). The CZAS reports contain recommendations for future work and a number of secondary research projects have already developed from these recommendations. However, over 3,500 of the recorded sites carry some form of recommendation for further study, and a project to prioritise these recommendations has recently been completed (Dawson 2010).
A new project, asking members of the public to update CZAS records is planned to start in 2012. This will utilise interactive web-based mapping and mobile phone apps.