Jacqueline Aitken grew up in Brora, playing on the Back Beach. No one could tell her what the walls eroding out of the dunes were, and so in 1999, as part of Aberdeen University’s Scottish Field Archaeology course, she found out for herself by carrying out her own research and making a record of the eroding remains. Since then, Jacquie and the Clyne Heritage Society have monitored the archaeology of the Back Beach and gathered as much information as possible about Brora’s early industries located here. In 2004, as part of the Shorewatch project, members of the Society and the North of Scotland Archaeology Society (NOSAS) recorded the sole remaining, long wall of a building on the beach, described in Jacquie Aitken’s 2004 Brora Survey report. The following year, with CFA Archaeology Ltd, they carried out a more comprehensive assessment of the archaeological features visible on the Back Beach, the results of which are reported in The Extractive Industries of Brora Assessment report, part 1 and part 2.
The results of this initial work clearly showed the perilous state of the remains due to rapid coastal erosion of this part of the Back Beach. As a result, every summer since 2007, a team of local volunteers working with the Clyne Heritage Society and the SCAPE Trust, supported by Historic Scotland have been carrying out archaeological rescue excavations on the site of the Old Salt House, and the site of the New Salt House, located less than 100m apart, but separated in time by 150 years. Click here for a site and trench location plan.
Each season of work has increased our understanding of the former salt industries on the Back Beach. Use the links above to read about the excavations. For fuller information you can view and download the excavation reports from the Reports page of the website.