Protection of Wrecks Act 1973

1139 Surface supply diver

Between 2003 and 2013 Wessex Archaeology monitored more than 54 wrecks around the coasts of Britain and Northern Ireland. The sites are designated by the 1973 Protection of Wrecks Act. In 2013 this work was extended for a further two years as part of the Heritage at Risk contract in support of Historic England's role in relation to marine designation and includes work on both designated and currently undesignated marine assets.

The designated wrecks protected under the Act range from cargoes of Middle Bronze Age metalwork (c 1,500BC- 1,100BC), including axes, to the Resurgam, an early submarine built in AD1879. Under the Act, no one is allowed to dive onto or disturb the wrecks unless they have a licence. Many of the wrecks are being investigated by groups of amateur or professional divers who have a licence under the Act to visit and survey the site. Wessex Archaeology’ work includes monitoring, complementing and assisting the work of these local groups. Wessex Archaeology helps these groups maintain their high standard of work, liaises between local groups and heritage bodies, and gives out information on the wrecks.
The monitoring work is managed overall by Historic England on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland, Cadw, the Environment and Heritage Service Northern Ireland and Historic England itself.
For more information about the contract and about Wessex Archaeology’s involvement please click the links to the right.