A five-year project stretching from Ireland’s east to south coast and along the Welsh coastline will use ‘cutting-edge’ technology to analyse coastal and island archaeology and heritage sites most affected by climate change, coastal erosion, storminess and rising sea levels.

CHERISH Skelligs

A bird’s eye view of Little Skellig from Skellig Michael – one of selected sites  

CHERISH (Climate, Heritage and Environments of Reefs, Islands and Headlines) will be led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, with partners Aberystwyth University, Geological Survey Ireland and the Discovery Programme Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland.

Hydrography; geology; archaeology; built and maritime heritage; remote sensing and environmental science will be employed in the research that will focus on selected headlands and sites including the Saltee Islands Glascarrig Motte (Co Wexford); Skellig Michael (Co Kerry) and the Skerries Islands (Co Dublin), and islands around Pembrokeshire, Cardigan Bay and the Llŷn Peninsula of Wales,

A key objective is to uncover some of the secrets hidden beneath the coastal waters along west Wales and Ireland’s east coast to establish the long-term context of environmental change. Traditional survey techniques will be used to record sites at risk, as well as laser scanning, bathymetry, drone and geophysics to record ‘at risk’ sites.

Monitoring surveys will be undertaken on shipwrecks, built heritage and eroding coastline, and archaeological excavations will be carried out on known or newly discovered sites.

Over 100 people attend the launch (March 23) held simultaneously on both sides of the Irish Sea: The headquarters of the Commissioners of Irish Lights in Dún Laoghaire and at Aberystwyth University.

Speaking in Dún Laoghaire, Sean Kyne, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Climate Change, said that ‘citizen science’ would be involved throughout the duration of the project: “Most importantly [the teams] will work with coastal communities to develop mutual understanding of climate risk to local heritage assets and to reduce the impact of climate change on local economies.

“It is my aim that this project will serve as a stimulus for climate knowledge growth, wellbeing and prosperity in the local communities it serves, as well as throughout coastal Ireland.

The project will be an “exemplar of what is best in interdepartmental and interagency collaboration”, Minister Kyne added.

CHERISH will receive €5.2m funding through the EU Ireland-Wales Cooperation Programme.