Project Background

During the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a number of data sources are consulted to determine the quantity and nature of known or potential archaeological remains within an area. Sources consulted during the preparation of EIAs dealing with the marine and coastal environments include:
Artefacts and archaeological material from the coastal zone are important for understanding the archaeological potential offshore in the marine environment. Artefacts from the marine environment come to light less frequently than those on land; so the information from coastal artefacts regarding the nature and frequency of human activity in an area can be important in gauging the potential for previously unknown archaeological material to exist offshore.
To create a baseline of the known archaeology of an area it is necessary to examine all data sources. Many artefacts are recorded by one institution but not by another and different sources often describe artefacts in different ways, focusing on one detail at the expense of another. It then becomes necessary to look at several different sources in order to gain a complete picture of one findspot. Conversely, records may be duplicated within archives when information on an artefact has come from different sources and it has not been realised that only one artefact is in question.
In the case of some sources, like HERs, artefacts can be omitted from the records by virtue of the way in which those records were originally formulated. The local Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs), the precursors to HERs, were originally compiled from the collections of local museums but marginal finds, such as those which were undated or unprovenanced, were often excluded. In many cases stray finds such as these might be the only evidence of past activity at a particular point in the landscape and their archaeological value should not be underestimated.
The Artefacts from the Sea project sought to address these issues and improve the quantity and quality of the data. The project focused on two Pilot Study Areas: the Solent and Humber-Tees. Data from these areas was collated from a variety of sources; the collated data was examined and an effort was made to enhance it by eliminating duplications, omissions and other inconsistencies, and by adding new records that came to light during the process.