Image: Piel Castle seen from across the water

Coastal Connections

Coastal zones are amongst the most dynamic and volatile environments on the planet. They also include some of our most treasured heritage sites.

Find out how we're working with World Monuments Fund to protect England's historic coastal sites against the effects of climate change. 

Image: The East Battery wall of Hurst Castle after it crashed into the sea in 2021
In 2021, powerful storms caused part of Hurst Castle's East Battery wall to fall into the sea.

The impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and increasing frequency of severe storms, have made coastal heritage sites even more vulnerable than before. Each year we see more evidence of damage caused by erosion and flooding, which in turn requires us to take action to conserve these sites.

As the rate of climate change accelerates, addressing its impacts poses the greatest and most complex challenges that we have ever faced. These challenges are exceptional, but they are not unique. Coastal processes have shaped shorelines – and communities – for millions of years. We believe that sharing knowledge with other communities and organisations who face similar challenges is the best way to adapt, learn and build resilience.

Image: The logo of the World Monuments Fund

Established in 2023, following the inclusion of Hurst Castle on the World Monument Watch List, the Coastal Connections project is a joint initiative between English Heritage and World Monuments Fund (WMF), a leading independent organisation devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places. Since WMF was founded in 1965, it has helped to conserve over 700 sites in over 100 countries, giving the organisation a unique perspective on global heritage issues.  

Image: A statue on Rapa Nui in the Pacific Ocean
A moai head from Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Image courtesy of WMF

Coastal Connections aims to form a global network of coastal heritage sites by bringing together communities and organisations to share their knowledge and expertise. This will involve online seminar discussions and the creation of a ‘virtual classroom’ containing digital resources for site managers and stakeholders to record and exchange best practice.

Global in scope, the project will enable custodians of coastal heritage sites in the UK and from around the world to learn from each other, from Hurst Castle in Hampshire to Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

Image: 3D model of Hurst Castle
3D model of Hurst Castle by Greenhatch

The project will develop tools and principles for guiding future management decisions. These range from the construction of sea defences to citizen science and community engagement for remembering and recording heritage.

Crucially, it will also engage with approaches such as ‘adaptive release’ that become necessary when protection becomes unsustainable in the face of climate change.

Through the development of its network and resources, Coastal Connections will enable us to meet the challenges of climate change together.


  • Protecting Hurst Castle

    In February 2021, a section of wall on the 19th-century east wing collapsed. Find out about our major project to protect and bring stability to the castle.

  • Sustainability

    The climate and ecological crises are two of the biggest challenges facing our historic sites. Find out how we are reducing our environmental impact. 


    Find out how our plan will create meaningful and sustainable change from carbon emissions to waste management and biodiversity.

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