Shoreline sequences between Dunbar and Belhaven, after Sissons (1967)
ITRP Inter-tidal rock platform
MPRB Main Postglacial Raised Beach, itself resting on a raised shore platform
RRP Raised rock platform, with crag and tail
Contemporary erosion of the mudstone on the inter-tidal shore platform
Detail of the shelly gravels of the raised beach. The periwinkle, limpet and cockle shells show that the water temperatures were similar to today when the raised beach was deposited around 5500 years ago.
The abandoned cliff line at the rear of the Main Post-glacial Raised Beach on Winterfield Golf Course
Significance: an accessible site showing raised platforms and beaches, and an intertidal shore platform that is rapidly extending
Belhaven Bay shows a staircase of marine features. At sea level lies an extensive shore platform developed across gently-dipping cementstone and mudstone, with one thick bed of sandstone. At low tide these soft rocks can be seen to be flaking and splitting, ready for removal by the waves. At the rear of the shore is a low step to the Main Postglacial Raised Beach; it sits on an older raised shore platform that can be seen to be cut across the bedding of the sandstone. The golf course occupies the raised beach but there is then another break of slope to a still higher and older glaciated shore platform.
The shoreline sequence reflects the postglacial fall in sea level along this coast is response to isostatic rebound after the removal of the load on the crust of the last ice sheet around 15 thousand years ago.
The shoreline continues to retreat. The circular structure on the foreshore at Belhaven is a mediaeval well, the Spa Well, once an iron-rich spring. The 1854 6 inch Ordnance Survey map shows its position inland of the coastline; the Google air photo shows it today on the platform, now encased in a protective wall. The low cliff has retreated by ~45 m, a rate of ~0.3 m per year. Recent erosion at the Winterburn Golf Course is but the latest manifestation of this long term recession.