SAMPHIRE

Scottish Atlantic Maritime Past: Heritage, Investigation, Research & Education
 
Project SAMPHIRE is a marine archaeology project focused on western Scotland’s coasts and islands. SAMPHIRE enables local communities to engage with professional underwater archaeologists based in Scotland and aims to support the identification, investigation and appreciation of Scotland’s marine heritage. By working alongside local communities we reinforced a shared sense of stewardship of those underwater archaeological sites.
 
The project has been informed by our experience on the completed pilot study in the Outer Hebrides; the OHCCMAPP produced records for previously unrecorded archaeology. This was done through successful partnership working between heritage professionals and local communities.
 
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Project SAMPHIRE student volunteer Robert Mackinstosh inspects a reported wreck site during dive fieldwork in 2015
 
While phases 1-3 of the project have concluded in 2015, Wessex Archaeology is still hosting the SAMPHIRE website and corresponding with individuals and communities who report maritime archaeological sites. Further Wessex Archaeology continues to hold talks and outreach events related to the project to encourage communities to engage with their maritime cultural heritage. 
 
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Probable wreck of the Monreith in Goat Well Bay, Kirkcudbright - recorded during SAMPHIRE fieldwork in 2015
 
This project has successfully demonstrated that gathering maritime archaeological data in partnership with local communities can lead to discoveries of great significance and can also facilitate the management of these sites, to preserve knowledge for generations to come. As such the project has recorded and preserved valuable heritage that otherwise might have worn away with the time. Further the connection established between archaeologists and the local communities, when properly maintained, results in a lasting positive influence on maritime cultural heritage in the region.
 

 

Aims and Objectives

The main aim of project SAMPHIRE is to assess the potential contribution of community engagement as a means of accurately identifying, recording and protecting previously unknown maritime heritage. 
 
The main objectives are:
The promotion of stewardship of marine historic assets by the local community. Project SAMPHIRE achieved this objective by working with the individuals who have identified archaeological sites and volunteers in the subsequent investigations including recording and reporting. This connected approach fostered a sense of ownership and pride in the local environment, ultimately promoting the preservation of coastal and marine cultural heritage.
 
Enhancement of the maritime archaeological baseline off the west coast of Scotland. Project SAMPHIRE achieved this objective through direct public engagement for the identification of currently unknown coastal and marine sites and subsequently through investigation of those sites using appropriate techniques. The verified data updates and enhances the local Historic Environment Record (HER) and national historic records (in the case of Scotland the RCAHMS national database), to provide accessible data for the public and curators. 

Methodology

The project consisted of four phases:
 
Phase 1: Preparation and Promotion. The first phase of the project started with a review of similar/related projects to highlight the best ways to engage with marine stewards, developing project tools and materials, raising awareness of the project and preparations for fieldwork including creating a shortlist of potential community engagement locations.
 
Phase 2: Community Engagement Fieldwork. The second phase focused on community engagement, undertaken by the project outreach team. This included meeting local community members and acquiring information about potential maritime archaeological sites. The outreach team also arranged lectures that were followed by discussions with engaged members of the public. The information acquired during this phase was gathered in a database to inform Phase 3 of the project.
 
Phase 3: Site investigation Fieldwork. This phase of the project tested, or verified, the sites reported in Phase 2, and also included archaeological investigation, mainly through diver survey. A team of maritime archaeologists using SCUBA arranged to visit a selection of sites, and invited the people who had reported the site and others to participate in the fieldwork. In addition, an aerial survey explored a complex series of intertidal features, and was followed by an intertidal survey from Wessex Archaeology together with representatives of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). 
 
Phase 4: Analysis & Dissemination. Phase 4 of the Project began in 2016 and focusses on the analysis and interpretation of the data acquired through the fieldwork and the subsequent dissemination. Maritime archaeologists studied and interpreted all data acquired, and directly added the data to the RCAHMS National Database. In addition, the maritime archaeologists maintained a constant dialogue with community participants, providing professional interpretations of the sites and artefacts reported as soon as they became available, directly through phone calls, emails and face-to-face meetings as well as indirectly, through online blogs, social media and ultimately through the final reports. The use of online media allows for a wider range of people to become new participants in the project, even if peripherally, as the project seeks to ensure public access to new and enhanced knowledge of Scotland’s marine historic environment. In some cases, the project team can return to communities to give presentations about the overall results and to discuss, in person, the sites discovered and recorded.
 

Results

Archaeological results: 
Project SAMPHIRE has published three separate reports over the three-year period detailing the results of the project and compiling all archaeological information obtained. To download the full report click on the links below:
Annual Report 2015
Annual Report 2014
Annual Report 2013
 
Awareness and outreach results: 
One of the most direct results of project SAMPHIRE has been the building of links and trust between professional archaeologists and coastal communities. Over the course of the project a huge amount of input was received from community members who have become more engaged with their local heritage. The project website has been updated on a regular basis throughout each phase of the project with a total of 106 posts and over 13,000 views. Social media continues to be one of the most effective outreach methods, while emails and phone conversations have continued to be a useful method of remote communication. Face-to-face engagement however has provided the most data to the project and some individuals who have been in directed contact with the SAMPHIRE team have continued to provide Wessex Archaeology with continuous updates on sites, and information on new sites. 
 

Example of Results - Year 1

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Classification: TRAWLER (20TH CENTURY)
Site Name: Mafeking (possibly)
Coordinates: 170400, 858400 
Accuracy: 100 m
Description: 
This site is one of several wreck locations near Chuaig Bay recorded through community engagement. During the diving phase of the SAMPHIRE project, Shieldaig-based dive charter operator Kenny Livingstone described wreckage in the intertidal part of a burn running out to Chuaig Bay. A walkover survey of the area was undertaken on 26 July 2013. The survey discovered numerous items of wreckage including an intact capstan, a donkey boiler and a possible parrel, spread over an area of approximately 100 m2. 
 
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Top Right: The SAMPHIRE team recording a well-preserved capstan of early 20th century date found in the intertidal part of the burn at Chuaig Bay.
Above: A donkey boiler, lying close to the capstan, adjacent to the burn at Chuaig Bay. 
 
Although there are thought to be two confirmed wreck sites in the vicinity of Chuaig Bay some locals believe this may be the remains of the Mafeking. According to Robert Gordon, local resident and historian, the Mafeking was a vessel wrecked during salvage or rescue of the SS Sheila in 1924. No record of a vessel with the name Mafeking has been found in the RCAHMS of UKHO databases or in any published sources consulted during the desk-based research. The local informants stated that this may be due to the vessel being very small and it has been suggested that the Mafeking was a salvage barge or a tug.
 
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Wreckage from the vessel is strewn over a wide area.