The Artefacts from the Sea pilot study demonstrated how previous records of artefacts found in coastal and marine contexts could be enhanced, and how access to such records could be improved, in order to facilitate the formulation of an archaeological baseline and impact assessment.
During the pilot study, records of archaeological material from coastal and marine contexts were frequently found to be inconsistent and lacking in detail in comparison to records of terrestrial archaeology. The enhancement indicated the potential of future projects in enabling a more fundamental reappraisal of England’s early history in which today’s coast need no longer be a boundary to understanding or proper management.
In order to assess the value of the project, comparisons were made between a search of the SMR and a search of the enhanced dataset for an archaeological assessment of an aggregate licence application area.


Example: Area 446 North West Rough
An existing desk based assessment, ‘Area 446: North West Rough’ was checked for the number of monuments that were obtained from the SMR search conducted for the assessment. The same study area was then queried in the Artefacts from the Sea database.
The original SMR query produced 42 Palaeolithic and Mesolithic monument records in a polygon spanning an area 2-17km inland. Two of these monuments are within the 1km coastal buffer zone addressed by this project.
Within this same 1km buffer zone, the enhanced Artefacts from the Sea database holds four monuments that are Mesolithic in date, and a further 27 monuments dated from 4000 BC or earlier, i.e. potentially dating from the Palaeolithic or Mesolithic.
Only one monument record is shared by the two datasets, meaning that the present study has added 30 new records to inform the assessment of North West Rough.
This example shows that the enhancement process has been highly effective and demonstrates the usefulness of data enhancement programmes to future marine aggregate-related assessments.
Humber-Tees study areaHumber-Tees study areaHampshire-Sussex study areaHampshire-Sussex study areaA breakdown of the results of the data enhancement process is illustrated in the bar charts on the left and on the right. Each chart shows the number of records, split by period, for the two study areas. The number of records from the original dataset is reflected by the blue segments of the bars and the additional data after enhancement is illustrated in red.
The degree to which original records have been enhanced demonstrates how much is to be gained. The enhancement of information by the Artefacts from the Sea project will improve understanding, conservation and appreciation or the marine historic environment through people accessing the enhanced data in the course of their day-to-day use of SMRs and the NMR.