Seafield Tower is a 16th castle along the Fife Coastal Path just outside of Kirkcaldy. This L-shaped tower house made of red sandstone is a stunning sight against the Firth of Forth. However due to time, neglect, and erosion, much of the five-story castle has disappeared, even in the last 100 years.
Dig It! TV takes us on a walking tour of what remains of Seafield Tower and the history that it has witnessed. This video has been made in collaboration between Dig It! TV and Archaeology Scotland with funding from the Castle Studies Trust.
Seafield Tower is an excellent example of what eventually happens to all, particularly neglected, archaeological sites. Most castles we visit today, despite the impressive walls and towers, are really just colourless shells compared to the richness they used to hold. As time continues to wear on these structures, the masonry will eventually break down and litter the ground, leaving archaeologists to interpret and reconstruct what the building may have looked like. Coastal structures are particularly at risk due to the unique challenges of high-wind storms as well as continuous wave and water damage, particularly in the wake of climate change.
This creates a need for projects such as Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk project (SCHARP) which is conducted under Scotland’s Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion trust (SCAPE). This project undertakes regular surveys of vulnerable coastal sites and makes note of the changes and damages these buildings are sustaining. The goal is to monitor all high priority sites in order to measure the rate of erosion and degradation, learn more about how different coastal environments are affected, as well as evaluate the effects of climate change along the coast. The information gathered from these annual surveys helps to direct conservation efforts.
In order to achieve these goals, projects like SCHARP crowdsource information from volunteers. This means that trained volunteers work with the project using the SCHARP app to record new information on the sites. By working with volunteers, SCHARP maximises their efforts to reach all high priority sites in the next 3 years. Seafield Tower is one of the sites identified by SCHARP as a high-risk site.
Some of the sites identified and excavated by SCAPE were then adopted by Archaeology Scotland’s own Adopt a Monument scheme; this includes the prehistoric site on the coast of Unst, Shetland. Under the scheme, the local community is supported as they work to conserve their heritage.
If you are interested in learning more about what SCHARP and SCAPE do, or want to get involved in the preservation of Scottish coastal heritage, read here for more information: http://www.scapetrust.org/index.html and http://scharp.co.uk/.