Results

The project successfully resulted in the creation of a system which could contain extensive amounts of data recorded from archival sources, and the development of a methodology for representing historical data spatially whilst mitigating against the uncertainty of locating events.
 
Initial querying of the data showed that the system was working effectively and that trends in the initial dataset could be identified. Three case-study dredging areas were also chosen to test the sample data collated during the project. The analysis of the three areas showed additional data available on battle events, some information on the nature of trade travelling through the area, and the relative importance of local ports during different centuries. Although the data entered in the database would have been initially biased towards the areas for which more information was available, further population of the database would reduce these biases.
 
An example of the level of data recorded during the course of the project can be seen below. The number of events mapped is depicted on the left and the graph on the right reflects the type of voyages undertaken by vessels in the area.
 

 

These figures demonstrate the success of the project in identifying and recording a substantial amount of data relating to pre-1730 shipping, thus providing a means of reducing the post-18th century bias apparent in the sources currently employed in formulating EIAs.
 
The project also achieved its objective of providing a basic model for mapping historic shipping routes around the UK and providing a representation of the density of traffic recorded along any particular route. The route network can be used to provide contextual information on known wreck sites. For example, if a wreck is known to have carried wool as a cargo, the attributes relating to that particular cargo, its importance or the trade of relevant historic pots and related shipping routes can be analysed in order to provide a characterisation of that vessel in the wider context of England’s shipping during that period.
 
The querying of data for traffic density entering and leaving ports provided a better representation of traffic density for the approaches to locations. Although it could not be extended further to sea, a reflection of the size and importance of a port, the nature of trade and its military importance would provide an indication of the likely density of traffic travelling through the area. Further population of the database could improve our ability to quantify and characterise the potential for archaeology on the seabed, based on the importance of ports and the character of voyages between them.