We’re delighted to announce our involvement in one of the five major projects awarded £14.5 million by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), ‘Unpath’d Waters: Marine and Maritime Collections in the UK.’ 

The five major projects form the largest investment of Towards a National Collection, a five-year programme that supports the research and development of emerging technologies, including machine learning and citizen-led archiving in order to connect the UK’s cultural artefacts and historical archives in new and transformative ways.

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair, Arts and Humanities Research Council, said:

‘This moment marks the start of the most ambitious phase of research and development we have ever undertaken as a country in the space where culture and heritage meets AI technology. Towards a National Collection is leading us to a long term vision of a new national research infrastructure that will be of benefit to collections, researchers and audiences right across the UK.’

© Kevin Camidge and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Maritime Archaeology Society, for Historic England

Above: © Kevin Camidge and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Maritime Archaeology Society, for Historic England.

 

About Unpath’d Waters

The UK's marine heritage is extraordinarily rich. Shipwrecks date from the Bronze Age to the World Wars, bearing testimony to Britain as an island nation, and a destination for trade and migration. Aircraft losses, inundated monuments, ports and seaside resorts all tell personal stories of struggles and successes. Before the Bronze Age, a great deal of what is now the North Sea floor was forest, hill and plains, peopled by prehistoric communities.

This heritage, covering 23,000 years, is represented by collections of charts, documents, images, film, oral histories, sonar surveys, seismic data, bathymetry, archaeological investigations, artefacts, objects and artworks. But they are often dispersed, unconnected and inaccessible. This matters because the story of our seas is of huge interest to the UK public, and because our exploitation of our seas for food, leisure, trade and energy is intensifying. If we are to reveal new stories and manage our past effectively and in sustainable ways, we need to join up these collections and unlock their potential.

 

Model of the remains of the HMS Derbent created from multi beam echo sounder (MBES) data points. Image produced by SEACAMS2, Bangor University for the U-boat Project, 2018.

Above: Model of the remains of the HMS Derbent created from multi beam echo sounder (MBES) data points. Image produced by SEACAMS2, Bangor University for the U-boat Project, 2018.

 

Reshape the future of UK marine heritage

UNPATH aims to reshape the future of UK marine heritage, making records accessible for the first time across all four UK nations and opening them to the world. It will devise new ways of searching across collections, visualising underwater landscapes, and identifying wrecks and artefacts from them. UNPATH will also deliver tools to protect our most significant heritage, while inviting the public to co-design ways of exploring the archives in order to uncover previously untold stories and new questions to guide future research.

The Mary Rose hull and Context Gallery where artefacts are displayed on a mirrored side of the hull based on where they were excavated from. Courtesy Hufton+Crow © Mary Rose Trust

Above: The Mary Rose hull and Context Gallery where artefacts are displayed on a mirrored side of the hull based on where they were excavated from. Courtesy Hufton+Crow© Mary Rose Trust.

Chris Brayne, CEO, Wessex Archaeology, said:

“The ways in which our shared cultural heritage is explored, managed and shared have undergone major advances in the past few years, and this project marks an exciting new chapter for our maritime heritage. We’re delighted to be able to offer our expertise as a key partner in the Unpath’d Waters project, thanks to our 20 years of experience investigating some of the most intriguing monuments, wrecks, artefacts and submerged landscapes in UK waters. Ultimately, this will create a fantastic, free resource for the public to be able to discover more about this unrivalled cultural asset.”  

Citizan MOLA recording app © MOLA

Above: Citizan MOLA recording app © MOLA.

 

Thank you to everyone involved

Principal Investigator: Mr Barney Sloane, Historic England

Project Partners: Historic Environment Scotland, Wessex Archaeology,  MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology), National Maritime Museum, the Universities of Bangor, Bradford, Portsmouth, St Andrews, Southampton, Ulster, York, Glasgow School of Art, National Oceanography Centre, Mary Rose Trust, Maritime Archaeology Trust, Nautical Archaeology Society, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Welsh Government Historic Environment Service, Department for Communities Northern Ireland, Lloyd's Register Foundation, Manx National Heritage, Marine Management Organisation, & Protected Wreck Association

Find out more about Unpath’d Waters and the four other major projects on the Towards a National Collection website.