Dr Tom Dawson
Tom Dawson

Tom Dawson

Contact Details

E-mail - tcd@st-andrews.ac.uk
Telephone - +44 (0)1334 467172
Fax - +44 (0)1334 462914

Research Profile on Research@StAndrews





Research Interests

Tom Dawson is a Principal Research Fellow working on the archaeology of the coast. He is interested in assessing the threats posed by coastal processes to heritage sites, especially at a time of climate change; exploring possible courses of action at vulnerable sites in advance of their destruction; and promoting the role of public archaeology in managing inevitable change. He has been the Managing Director of SCAPE (Scottish Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) since 2001; is a Vice President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; and a member of the Society for American Archaeology Committee on Climate Change Strategies and Archaeological Resources. He was formerly a Commissioner on the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and a director of the Bardsey Island Trust; and is a member of the Scottish Oceans Institute.

Tom works closely with a number of partners, including Historic Environment Scotland and local community groups – and has made several international trips to share experiences and help develop best practice. He has gathered information on the scale of the problem around Scotland through managing a national programme of Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys and has analysed results from previous surveys, leading to the creation of a system for prioritizing action at eroding sites. Tom has a strong interest in community archaeology and promoting heritage as widely as possible. He manages the award-winning Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP) - which works with the public to monitor eroding sites using mobile technology. He has also managed the Shorewatch Project, numerous detailed site surveys and several long-running community digs. Excavations have included work on Unst and Bressay in Shetland, Baile Sear and Loch Paible in the Western Isles and Brora in Sutherland. Tom has explored novel ways of working with threatened archaeological sites; including using video to promote coastal archaeology; relocating two burnt mounds to local Heritage Centres (Bressay and Meur); and digital recording, including RTI and Structure from Motion to record threatened sites before they are destroyed – see the 4Dwemysscaves website.

Selected Publications

Edited books

  • Dawson T, Nimura, C, Lopez-Romero, E and Daire M-Y (eds) Public Archaeology and Climate Change, (Oxbow, 2017) [Details]
  • Dawson T, (ed) Coastal Archaeology and Erosion in Scotland, (Historic Scotland, 2003) [Details]

Selected chapters and articles

  • Dawson T, Hambly J and Graham, E A central role for communities: Climate change and coastal heritage management in Scotlandin Public Archaeology and Climate Change, Oxbow, 2017)
  • Dawson T, ‘The steps to prioritizing and undertaking action at sites threatened by climate change: incorporating a citizen science approach into heritage management in Scotland’ in With a World of Heritage So Rich : Lessons from Across the Globe for US Historic Preservation in its Second 50 Years.(US/ICOMOS. 2016)
  • Dawson T, ‘Taking the middle path to the coast: how community collaboration can help save threatened sites’ inThe Future of Heritage as Climates Change: Loss, Adaptation and Creativity. (Routledge, 2015)
  • Dawson T, ‘A View from Scotland’s coast’ The Public Historian (University of California, 2014)
  • Dawson, T ‘Coastal erosion and archaeology in Scotland – managing a national problem, with examples from the Uists’ in Journal of the North Atlantic (2015)
  • Dawson, T, ‘Erosion and coastal archaeology: Evaluating the threat and prioritising action’ in Daire, M-Y Ancient Maritime Communities and the Relationship between People and Environment along the European Atlantic Coasts (BAR International Series, 2013)
  • Dawson T, Lelong O & Shearer I Local Community Groups and Aeolian Archaeology: Shorewatch and the Experience of the Shetland Community Archaeology Project (Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports, 2011)
  • Dawson T and Stentoft K ‘The implications of climate change on coastal heritage in Northern Europe’ in (ed) Mizoguchi T The environmental histories of Europe and Japan (Nagoya University, 2008)
  • Dawson T and Winterbottom S J ‘Testing the use of multi-spectral imagery for detecting buried archaeology in sand dune-dominated systems’ in Jones, R E and Sharpe, L (eds) Going over Old Ground: Perspectives on archaeological geophysical and geochemical survey in Scotland. (BAR British Series, 2006)
  • Winterbottom S J & Dawson T ‘Airborne multi-spectral prospection for buried archaeology in mobile sand dominated systems’ (Archaeological Prospection, 2005)
  • Fraser S M, Gilmour, S and Dawson T ‘Shorewatch: Monitoring Scotland’s Coastal Archaeology’ in Dawson, T (ed) Coastal Archaeology and Erosion in Scotland,(Historic Scotland, 2003)
  • Ashmore P & Dawson T. A Strategy for Scotland’s Coasts and Inshore Waters – Historic Environment (Scottish Coastal Forum/Scottish Executive, 2002)

Recent commissioned reports

  • Dawson, T Fethaland Fishing Station, Shetland : Desk-based assessment and preservation by digital record (unpublished report for the Shetland Amenity Trust, 2011)
  • Dawson, T A system for prioritising action at archaeological sites recorded in the Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (unpublished report for Historic Scotland, 2010)
  • Dawson, T A Review of the Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys of Scotland, 1996-2007: Methods and collected data (unpublished report for Historic Scotland, 2008)
  • Dawson, T Archaeology and Coastal Erosion in Scotland: the current state of knowledge and future directions (unpublished report for Historic Scotland, 2006)

Contributions to:

  • Towards a Strategy for Scotland’s Marine Historic Environment: Discussion paper in association with the marine taskforce of the Built Environment Forum of Scotland’, (Historic Scotland, 2009)
  • A strategy for Scotland’s coast and inshore waters (Scottish Coastal Forum, 2004)