Baile Sear, North Uist - August 2005  The SCAPE Trust
Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society:
Fish traps in the Firth of Forth
The Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society (EAFS) was one of the groups involved in the first pilot of Shorewatch, co-ordinated by the Council for Scottish Archaeology. They decided to survey the area of coast around Blackness Castle, on the south shore of the River Forth, west of the bridges.

The area had previously been surveyed during a Historic Scotland sponsored coastal survey, so they weren't expecting to find much. However, it wasn't long before the group started to find features in the intertidal zone. Since their first visit, they have concentrated on this area and have found numerous features, including the remains of several fish-traps. Many of these are stake traps, and only the rotted stumps of the poles that once supported great nets are left.

A double line of stakes
extending out into the Forth.
Working in the intertidal zone can be hazardous, and the group always plans its visits with care. They check the time of low tide and inform the coastguard before their visits. They also take care not to venture too far out into the mud. The group has found that using a pair of binoculars can be a great help in identifying features which they can't walk out to.
Member of EAFS walking beside the remains of a stake trap.
As well as the remains of fish-traps, they have found the remains of old jetties and causeways, and timbers from abandoned boats. The group are still hopeful of finding prehistoric remains; a Mesolithic barbed antler point was found in 1993 in the area they are surveying.
Timbers that have become buried under silt and rubble.
If they can safely approach an object in the intertidal zone, the group use a hand-held GPS to record the position of the feature. They measure the dimensions of the features and use a digital camera to take photographs. They record their findings on Shorewatch recording sheets.
EAFS group member recording the dimensions of some timbers.
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