Case studies and Adaptation Plans

Nine historic places from across northern Europe are used in Adapt Northern Heritage as case studies. Working with local partners, these places in Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Scotland have informed the design of the project's toolkit. These tools were used to produce Adaptation Plans for some of the case studies, setting out options for adapting these historic places to the environment impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

The places selected as case studies include different forms of tangible heritage (cultural landscapes, historic buildings and non-building structures, underground remains), different locations (coastal and inland, rural or urban) and different climates (mostly Arctic, sub-Arctic and temperate Oceanic).


Forcefully, the meandering river Skaftá cuts its way through the imposing landscape of Skaftártunga. The area lies in southern Iceland, on the fringes of the Vatnajökull National Park, with its glacier Vatnajökull, several volcanoes, including Bárðarbunga, Grímsvötn and Öræfajökull, and Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur. The combination of glacial melting and volcanic activity is causing challenging environments also in the areas surrounding the national park. The Skaftá is for example becoming more often a torrent, causing substantial erosion of its banks and endangering cultural heritage, including underground remains and standing structures.

This demonstration case study is undertaken in collaboration with the project's Associated Partner Veðurstofa Íslands, the Icelandic meteorological office.

At Öndverðarnes, row boats came ashore in the coves. When boats landed in the cove and rested against the rock, great care had to be taken to prevent them from rubbing against the face of the rock. Men would climb the side of the cliff to steady the boat. When this was done, the boats were dragged along the flat rock, leaving marks that can still be seen. The boats were placed high enough so that the sea was not able to reach them. Sometimes, they even had to be placed beyond the so-called ship wall at the edge of the beach, the very spot of the sign depicted in the photograph.

This boat landing site is one of many historic places in the Snæfellsjökull National Park. Named after the volcano of the same name, the park is located on Snæfellsnes, a peninsula in western Iceland. A rich natural heritage, the national park also includes various historic remains, many of which are located at or near the coastline.

The remains at Öndverðarnes are a case study for the project, coordinated by the project partner Minjastofnun Íslands and supported by the associated partner Umhverfisstofnun, Iceland's Environment Agency, which manages the national park.

An Adaptation Plan has been produced for Öndverðarnes to demonstrate and illustrate the Adapt Northern Heritage toolkit.

On the shoreline of the peninsula Iveragh of County Kerry, in Ireland's southwest, lies the historic place of Ballinskelligs. A medieval castle ruin towers over sandy beaches. Not far is the graveyard with the ruins of a Cistercian priory. In its exposed, coastal location, these two beautiful, rural places are threatened by rising sea levels and severe storms, sweeping in from the Atlantic Ocean. The graveyard and the church, as its centre point, has been protected by a massive concrete sea wall, itself degrading under the forces of water and wind.

This case study is coordinated by the project partner Historic Environment Scotland and supported by the associated partner Kerry County Council in collaboration with Ireland's Office of Public Works, the Ballinskelligs Environmental Action Group and with the Interreg Ireland-Wales project CHERISH.

Adaptation Plans have been produced for Ballinskelligs Abbey and for Ballinskelligs Castle to demonstrate and illustrate the Adapt Northern Heritage toolkit.

Aurlandsdalen (Aurlands valley) is a 40 km long valley in the inner part of western Norway in Aurland municipality. The valley is a narrow, dramatic valley. The old route through the valley was in its time an important connection between Western and Eastern Norway and was used by people and animals. This road also links the valley's many important farms and summer farms with many important historical buildings and other elements. As late as 1850 there were 10 farms and houseboats in Aurlandsdalen. Today no one lives here, but the valley and the trail are visited by many hikers and is one of Norway's national historical hiking routes. Land slide and rock fall and other hazards require repairs and security work to be carried out annually to keep the path open for traffic. The valley is important as a storytelling environment linked to human use and adaptation to the natural challenges. This gives a special value in relation to the dissemination and understanding of climate change. The summer farm settlements in Aurland Municipality are important cultural environments that are still partially used by farmers in the summer. In the project ANH Aurlandsdalen and one of the summer farm settlements are sites that we will work with.

This case study is coordinated by the project partner Riksantikvaren and supported by the Associated Partner Aurland kommune, the local government.

Hiorthhamn is an old site for mining of coal at Svalbard, Norway. It was a small community in use in periods from 1917 and towards 1940. The mine was located high up in the mountain. The coal was transported from the mine mouth by aerial cable ways down to the shore, where the black gold was transferred into ships. The workers partly lived up by the mine and partly down by the coast. Today several houses and remains of the cable way and railroads are left. The climate is changing rapidly in the area. More rain, less frozen ground and more erosion due to less ice in the fjords during the winter gives increased degradation and more damages.

This case study is coordinated by the project partner Riksantikvaren and supported by the project partner Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning and the associated partners Sysselmannen på Svalbard, the islands' governor.

An Adaptation Plan has been produced for Hiorthhamn to demonstrate and illustrate the Adapt Northern Heritage toolkit.

The Solovetsky archipelago comprises six islands in the western part of the White Sea, which have been inhabited since the 5th century B.C. and the site of fervent monastic activity since the 15th century, including several churches dating from the 16th to the 19th century. The archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage site, Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands, and Project Partners are currently working to identify which specific historic place(s) of this important site will be used as a demonstration case study.

This case study is coordinated by the project partner Historic Environment Scotland and supported by the associated partner Northern (Arctic) Federal University, based in Arkhangelsk and the Solovki State Historical, Architectural and Natural Museum-Reserve.

The historic town of Inveraray lies near the head of Loch Fyne, a sea water inlet in the council area of Argyll & Bute, in western Scotland. Dating from the 18th century, the planned town of Inveraray is, for the Argyll region, a traditional county town, located on a natural promontory on the loch, and became later a model for urban developments on Scotland's west coast. The town is also an integral part of the wider historic landscape, which forms part of the Argyll Estate, including a nearby designed landscape with the Duke of Argyll's castle. Most of the historic town is designated today as cultural heritage, in the form of an urban ensemble (conservation area), singular built structures (listed buildings) and a cultural landscape (designated garden and designed landscape).

The case studies is coordinated by the project partner Historic Environment Scotland and supported by the associated partner Argyll & Bute Coucil, the local government for this Scottish regions.

An Adaptation Plan has been produced for Inveraray to demonstrate and illustrate the Adapt Northern Heritage toolkit.

The Threave Estate lies just outside Castle Douglas, a small town in the council area of Dumfries & Galloway, in southwest Scotland. The estate includes ancient archaeological remains, a medieval castle, a 19th-century Baronial-style mansion with various outbuildings, an 19th-century arboretum and a 20th-century garden as well as large areas of agricultural land.

The estate is owned and managed by the Associated Partner The National Trust for Scotland, an independent conservation charity and Scotland's largest membership organisation, with the estate's castle ruin, a 14th-century tower house, in the care of the project's lead partner, Historic Environment Scotland. Both organisations are working together to understand better the environmental impacts of climate change on the estate, including impacts on the castle due to flooding from the river Dee, on the mansion due to increasing precipitation levels and on the garden due to increasing ambient temperature causing vegetation changes.

An Adaptation Plan has been produced for Threave Garden to demonstrate and illustrate the Adapt Northern Heritage toolkit.

Bartjan Summer Gathering in Jämtland, Sweden is a Sami cultural environment and Camp with long continuity, still in use. Both calf labeling and summer separation is carried out in the paddock next to the camp by Tåssåsen´s Sami Community, managing the camp and user of the land. The camp is a mix of different designs and ages of restored huts Kåtor – a tentlike contruction of wood (birch) and peat – and modern wooden buildings. In and in close proximity to the present vistas, there are several Sami remains, such as carnivores, storage pits and renvals. Kroktjärnsvallen, or, as it is called in southern Sami, Bartjan, has long been the Summer Camp of Sami in Tåssåsen's Community. Kroktjärnsvallen lies about two miles west of the Main Camp, Glen, in the southern part of Oviksfjällen about 2 hours south of Östersund in Jämtland.

This case study is coordinated by the project partners Riksantikvaren and supported by the associated partner Riksantikvarieämbet and the Sámi cultural foundation Gaaltije.

An Adaptation Plan has been produced for Bartjan to demonstrate and illustrate the Adapt Northern Heritage toolkit.