The Marine Aggregate Industry Archaeological Protocol encourages the reporting and recording of maritime archaeological finds discovered by the aggregate industry during dredging works. The discoveries that come to light form a database of maritime archaeological finds that otherwise may have been discarded as waste material. Since its launch in 2005, over 1600 finds have been reported, ranging from metal artefacts to timber and flints. 

Hanson_0180 consisted of two mammoth teeth and two flint finds. These finds were discovered by Captain A. Mills at Hanson’s SBV Flushing Wharf found in material dredged on 22 June 2008 from Area 240, approximately 13 km east off the coast of Great Yarmouth. These finds were discovered on the reject pile at Hanson’s SBV Flushing Wharf while the cargo of aggregate was being discharged from the Arco Arun. 

Aggregate with the flint artefacts

The two flint finds were thought by wharf staff to have been struck. On receiving the report of the finds, photographs were sent to Matt Leivers, a flint specialist at Wessex Archaeology. Having examined the photographs, Matt thought that they were natural and thermally-fractured. However, following hand examination, he concluded that one of the flint artefacts showed possible signs of striking. This flint may have been the waste product during the knapping of a flint tool such as a handaxe, rather than representing a tool itself.

These finds may date to a time when the seabed was exposed as dry land during an Ice Age, when the capturing of water within ice sheets resulted in a reduction in sea levels. The discovery position of these finds is situated to the north-west of an identified concentration of worked flint and mammal remains (Hanson_0133).

Since the start of the Protocol, a number of prehistoric finds have been reported from the East Coast dredging region. This quantity of finds suggests that the area is potentially an archaeologically sensitive area. Consequently, we encourage wharf and vessel staff to readily report any finds thought to be of archaeological significance discovered within aggregates from this region. As further discoveries are reported and mapped, it may be possible to identify meaningful patterns in the distribution of finds which not only has the potential to locate previously unknown submerged prehistoric landscapes, but also may ultimately contribute to our understanding of the marine historic environment.

By Lowri Roberts, Archaeologist, Coastal & Marine