Deterioration and loss of our historic environment due to intensification of natural erosive processes, exacerbated by climate change, outpaces available resources for preservation, and will accelerate over the coming century. Faced with unstoppable challenges, a ‘do-nothing’ approach is often regarded as the only option. However, the intersection of climate change impacts with irreplaceable heritage creates opportunities to explore fundamental questions about value, preservation, and the role of heritage in society. How should we assign significance to threatened assets? How should we identify priorities? Who should be involved in decision making? What is to be expected of communities, resource managers and researchers?

During an intensive fieldtrip and series of workshops, researchers, practitioners and community stakeholders will address these issues through the lens of threatened coastal heritage and vulnerable carved stone monuments, building upon the existing scholarship and expertise of team members. We will learn from each other and consider alternative futures using international and community experience.

The outcomes will assist in Historic Environment Scotland’s decision making processes, feed into sector-wide change via Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy and will be of wider societal relevance, giving insights into how we manage change and foster greater understanding of climate change impacts in Scotland by 2030.

Programme Outputs

Project Video

Learning from Loss Climate Stories

A selection of Climate stories written by Learning from Loss programme participants, about Scotland's eroding coastal and carved stone heritage inspired by the US National Parks Service "Every Place Has a Climate Story " approach.



Story Map

FPAN in Scotland: Learning from Loss

Bill Lees, Executive Director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network reflects on his main take-homes from the Scottish Learning from Loss programme and their relevance to approaches to loss of coastal heritage in the Sunshine State.

Learning from Loss in FPAN Conversations about Conferences: Scotland Edition

In conversation with her colleagues back at home, Sarah Miller, Regional Director, Florida Public Archaeology Network reflects on her experience and take-homes from the Learning from Loss Scottish programme.

Bringing social values into the prioritisation of heritage sites: a question of resilience?

Liz Robson and Qian Gao, researchers at the University of Stirling, tackle significance and prioritisation in their reflections from the Learning from Loss Programme.


Workshop Documentation

Summary of the main findings from community workshops held in East Wemyss, Fife and Sanday, Orkney and a workshop held with programme participants and colleagues at Historic Environment Scotland.

East Wemyss Workshop

Sanday Workshop

Historic Environment Scotland Workshop


Journal article

Dawson T., Hambly J., Lees W., Miller S. (2021). 'Proposed Policy Guidelines for Managing Heritage at Risk Based on Public Engagement and Communicating Climate Change'. The Historic Environment: Policy and Practice. 

DOI: 10.1080/17567505.2021.1963573


Final Report


See above

Programme Team

Tom Dawson, University of St Andrews
Dr Sally Foster, University of Stirling
Sian Jones, University of Stirling
Joanna Hambly, University of St Andrews
Qian Gao, University of Stirling
Kirsty Owen, Historic Environment Scotland
Mairi Davies, Historic Environment Scotland
Hugh McBrien, Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers
Marcy Rockman, U. S. National Park Service
William Lees, Florida Public Archaeology Network
Sarah Miller, Florida Public Archaeology Network