The Project

During 2007 we developed these ideas into a proposal to the ALSF for an extension of the Wrecks on the Seabed project. Funding was granted and the project got underway in November 2007.
Two of the sites chosen for the project were investigated during Wrecks on the Seabed - the Portland Stone Wreck and Bottle Wreck. Available data for three sites in East Sussex designated as Marine Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (MSNCI) and surveyed by Sussex Seasearch – the HMS Northcoates, the City of Waterford, and the Outer Mulberry – will be also be reviewed.
Claire Dalgleish, a freelance marine ecologist has joined Wessex Archaeology for the duration of the project, and is exploring the questions posed above. Her starting point is a literature review looking for any other work on the links between the archaeology and ecology of historic wreck sites. She will then examine digital photographs of the sites, some of the many hours of footage recorded on the helmet-mounted video cameras carried by our divers during their surveys on the sites chosen for the project, as well as diver observations and site descriptions.
The results of these assessments will be the development of a draft methodology for recording flora and fauna on wrecks as part of archaeological site survey, compatible with Seasearch, Marlin and DASSH standards.
The sites chosen for this project lie at a range of water depths and include steel and wooden wrecks. They are thus likely to play host to a range of ecological communities. We anticipate that the range of chosen sites will allow an assessment of ecological variability across different wreck types at different water depths. The environmental processes indicated by the presence of different species may then be used as potential indicators of relative site vulnerability to change or stability.
  • To assess the potential of archaeological data collected from a number of wrecks off the East Sussex coast to provide useful ecological and biological information;
  • To assess the value – to archaeologists, ecologists and seabed developers - of integrating archaeological and ecological surveys of wreck sites in future; and
  • To propose a cost-effective, but ecologically sound methodology for recording the flora and fauna on wrecks during archaeological site survey, based on diver observations and/or stills images and video footage.