Archaeological Services in Relation to Marine Protection (2015−2017)


In 2015, Historic England commissioned Wessex Archaeology Coastal & Marine to undertake a two year project to assess underwater sites: Archaeological Services in Relation to Marine Protection. Similar to the Heritage at Risk project, which ran from 2013−2015, Historic England selected sites of special interest in English Waters for archaeological investigation. Sites ranged from wreck sites identified through the Early Ships and Boats Project to First World War submarines. Other wreck sites selected for investigation had been identified by Wessex Archaeology during previous fieldwork. Still others were identified by the seabed explorations of the Shipwreck Project with Grahame Knott and Richard Bright-Paul, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company based in Weymouth, that worked closely with Wessex Archaeology during the archaeological assessment of a number of sites.

The project aims to archaeologically assess wreck sites on the seabed and intertidal area not only through intertidal walkover surveys, diver surveys and/or geophysical survey, but also through working with other organisations, and establishing links with local divers, dive groups and other stakeholders. Existing data, ranging from diver reports to listings in the National Record for the Historic Environment (NRHE), and from previous survey reports to recently acquired geophysical survey data are consulted and reviewed to inform fieldwork objectives.
The objectives for each site are site specific. However, in general, the site’s location is confirmed, material within the site is investigated and accurately positioned, and the stability of the site is assessed. From this, a record of the site is produced, including photographs, videos, site plans, and a detailed report.