Investigating Hunterston Sands – 29th January 2014

The COALIE team made a quick trip to Hunterston Sands, North Ayrshire on Wednesday to gauge the impact of the recent storms on the beach and to the archaeology investigated last September. Thankfully the storm surge and terrible weather didn’t appear to have caused any major damage.

COALIE: Investigating historic navigation charts (A. Hale, RCAHMS 2014).

We took the opportunity to investigate some of the coastal structures mapped on early Admiralty Charts of the Clyde surveyed in 1846. Including the site of Hunterston Mill where the course of the Polteath Burn was canalised to run east-west. This left a relict channel running north away from the site through the trees, where it is still preserved, and recorded on recent OS maps. The old meandering course of the burn is clearly shown on the Admiralty Chart.

Polteath Burn looking east; canalised to flow into Fairlie Sands next to the Mill, located on the right bank (A.Bicket, WA C&M 2014).

We then visited the large complex of fishtraps on Hunterston Sands as the tide was going out; it’s clear that the structures still work! It was a great opportunity to see how simple lines of boulders carfeully installed along the contours of the coast can be used to pond the water and trap fish. In this case, potentially on quite a large scale.

The fishtraps on Hunterston Sands in action, looking northeast. Ponding the water on the receding tide (A.Bicket, WA C&M 2014).

The fishtraps have some particularly fascinating features, more on those soon…

Welcome to COALIE

The Project

Welcome to the COALIE Survey Project, investigating coastal and marine heritage on the North Ayrshire coast between Largs and Ardrossan.

We’re particularly interested in placing the sites we examine in a broad historical and geographical context, sites such as abandoned harbours, beacons,  fishtraps and other structures. Much of this archaeology is underwater for much of the time and difficult to interpret without detailed historical research or local knowledge.

That is why we are working with local individuals and community groups to integrate their knowledge and experience with marine and coastal archaeology specialists at WA Coastal & Marine and RCAHMS.

  • We’ll be posting regular blogs here as the project develops.
  • You can find out more details on our About page.

Get Involved

If you would like to get involved in field surveys or have finds and sites you would like to look into in more detail in this area of the Outer Clyde please get in touch.

We’re particularly interested in shipwrecks, lost harbours, old fishtraps and other sites and finds along this coastline: we want to hear from you.

The harbour at Brigurd Point at very low tide, looking south (A. Bicket, WA C&M 2013).