Leaving traces in the landscape

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Duntulm, Skye © David Gill

Concerns are being raised about visitors creating piles of cairns that detract from the landscape (Michael Cox, ‘Beaches ‘spoiled’: Should rock stacking be banned?‘, BBC News 11 August 2018). John Hourston of the Blue Planet Society is quoted: ‘The first rule of the environment is leave no trace … If we educated people to understand that philosophy I think then people would have second thoughts about making a personal statement with a rock stack.’

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Neist Point, Skye © David Gill

The issue is not just one for Scotland. This summer we observed the phenomenon on Lindisfarne, Northumberland.

Tourists need to leave the landscape as they find it.

Author: David Gill

David Gill is Honorary Professor in the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent, and an Academic Associate in SISJAC at UEA; Professor of Archaeological Heritage.

One thought on “Leaving traces in the landscape”

  1. Not sure I entirely agree. Strictly speaking I thought it was illegal on a Scheduled Ancient Monument, not advised(& often illegal) in environmentally sensitive areas, & very dangerous in areas where cairns are indicated on maps.
    Apart from that – whats the harm, especially on beaches. The disruption to the local fauna & flora is minimal – its evolved to be highly mobile as the landscape shifts anyway. In other areas the possible eye irritant aspect is surely outweighed by the advantage of getting people to appreciate, value & protect the landscape in which they make there stacks.
    The structures themselves are quite small & don’t last that long. They annoy me intensely but my 8 year old loves them & learns from them. I’ve learned to accept that my view of them is not arbiter on which the countryside should be based. I’m more concerned that its vulnerable aspects are effectively protected.

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