Cata Sand 

Cata Sand in Sanday is a prehistoric settlement site discovered by chance in 2015 and has been almost totally destroyed by catastrophic coastal erosion. A team of dedicated archaeologists has been battling time and tide over the last three years, comprised of members of the Sanday Archaeology Group and volunteers from the Universities of the Highlands and Islands and Central Lancashire, to rescue and record as much as possible.  Since the initial discovery excavation has shown that there are a series of 5,000-year-old Neolithic houses at Cata Sand and the team has been racing against time to record as much as possible before the site is destroyed. As you can see in the photo below, this really is archaeology on the edge!


Much has been accomplished already – and you can download previous seasons reports here – and one final season of excavation will now take place in summer 2019 to complete the rescue excavation of the site, before it is completely destroyed. If you would like to make a donation towards the post-excavation work including radiocarbon dating of the Cata Sand Whale Burials you may do so below - thank you for your support!

US taxpayers who wish to make a US tax-deductible donation of $500 or more please click here for more information


The photo above shows Professor Jane Downes, one of our Trustees, about to be submerged by the tide at Cata Sand, whilst below you can see the obvious threat to the site from the sea.

To view the site's location please use the Google maps interactive tool below - switch to satellite view for the best effect (if you can't see it you've got your pop-up/security settings too high).

Cata Sand is just one of many hundreds of archaeological sites in Orkney that are threatened by coastal erosion. The Swandro-Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust is a Scottish Charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness of these issues.  Orkney has over 980 km of coastline, with many archaeological sites situated on the foreshore and subject to ongoing coastal erosion. Global warming, the effects of climate change and melting polar ice are promoting higher sea levels and changing weather systems with increased storminess, which is exacerbating an existing problem. As with all our appeals any funds surplus to the immediate threat at Cata Sand will be used to benefit any and all archaeological sites in Orkney threatened by coastal erosion at the discretion of the Trustees in line with Scottish Charity Regulations. The Trust does not have any employees and is run by a board of unpaid Trustees, and our admin costs are sponsored by a local business, so every penny we raise through public appeals goes directly to fund our archaeological work throughout Orkney.