The offshore dredging industry provides around 20% of the aggregate needed for construction projects across the UK. Though all dredging areas are assessed for archaeological potential prior to the granting of the licence, industry staff are still highly likely to encounter archaeological finds during their day to day work.
BMAPA and English Heritage (now Historic England), put in place the Protocol, developed by Wessex Archaeology, in 2005 which advises industry staff on how to protect our submerged heritage. The Protocol states that all finds of archaeological interest should be reported using the Implementation Service run by Wessex Archaeology. The Crown Estate joined the scheme as a funding partner in 2009.
Protocol Awareness Video
The Protocol was produced in response to a Guidance Note written by BMAPA and Historic England, in 2003. The Guidance Note provides practical advice on assessing, evaluating, mitigating and monitoring the impact of marine aggregate dredging on submerged archaeology. It can be downloaded here.
Guidance Note April 2003 (PDF)
The Guidance Note was informed by previous studies into the impact of offshore dredging, most notably Wenban-Smith’s 2002 ‘Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology on the Seabed’ report. This included a series of maps characterising the known archaeological resource. The maps, and the original report, can be downloaded here.
Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology on the Seabed (PDF, 6.64MB)
In 2008 An additional annex was also produced for reporting finds related to aircraft crash site at sea.
- Annex to the Protocol Guidance on the use of the Protocol for Reporting Finds of Archaeological Interest in Relation to Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea
Protocol Implementation Service
The Protocol recommends that every find discovered during aggregate dredging is reported through an Implementation Service run by Wessex Archaeology.
Wessex Archaeology investigate every find that has been reported with the support and advice of a wealth of specialists, both within Wessex Archaeology and across the country. This information is collated into a series of reports – one for the wharf or vessel that made the discovery, one for Historic England, BMAPA, The Crown Estate, Local Historic Environment Records and Sites and Monuments Records, and a third report is generated for the Receiver of Wreck when necessary. Any other agency that may have an interest in dredged remains, for example the Ministry of Defence, will also be informed.
Wessex Archaeology staff will advise directly on finds that are obviously isolated and uncontentious. Discoveries that may indicate the presence of a larger site of archaeological interest or importance are referred directly to Historic England which has the power to implement temporary or permanent exclusion zones around archaeological remains in order to protect them.
The way in which finds are reported allows our submerged heritage to be understood and this information, gained because of the diligence of the staff of BMAPA member companies, has become an important resource for informing other offshore projects.
The annual reports from the Implementation Service are available to download or view online below.
Protocol archaeological discoveries
The latest discoveries reported through the Protocol are now available on the Marine Aggregate Industry Archaeological Protocol Facebook page, follow this link
Protocol awareness programme
The Awareness Programme which supports the Protocol Implementation Service was launched in 2006. Since its inception the Awareness Programme has visited wharves and vessels, here and on the Continent, hosted regional seminars and produced the popular Dredged Up newsletter.
As part of the Awareness Programme, the Implementation Team conduct Awareness Visits in which we offer advice about marine archaeology and the Protocol to wharves and vessels and give you a chance to handle artefacts previously dredged from the seafloor and reported through the Protocol. These Awareness Visits are free, informative and fun! To book your Protocol Awareness Visit, you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01722 326867.
The Awareness Programme is also supported by a series of awareness materials which can be downloaded here (in English, Dutch and French). The Implementation Team have recently redesigned the Protocol Awareness materials and are proud to introduce a new poster and handouts. The new materials also include a remote learning pack, which enables members of staff who have been unable to attend Awareness Visits to learn about the Protocol and how it works. The remote learning pack can also be used at any time to refresh training.
The Protocol Awareness materials provide a summary of the archaeology of the seabed and the types of archaeological finds that could be encountered, as well as including advice on the reporting process, concretions, prehistoric finds and ordnance*.
* Company Health and Safety policies and established operational procedures should always take priority over archaeological reporting.
Awareness document downloads
The documents for the Protocol Awareness Programme are available to download in three languages below. The training video is also available on Youtube in three languages here.
Aggregate industry staff should be able to find the name and contact details of their Site Champion on a poster which is being displayed on every BMAPA wharf and vessel. A copy of the Poster can also be downloaded below.
DownloadsEnglish - Protocol English - poster English - form English - site induction English - handouts English - wharf champions notes English - vessel champions notes English - Flint identification English - Palaeolithic and Mesolithic seabed archaeology Nederlands - poster Nederlands - inductie pack Nederlands - handouts Nederlands - meldinge for mulier Français - poster Français - découvertes form Français - induction paquet Français - handouts
Wessex Archaeology produces the popular bi-annual Dredged Up newsletter as part of the Awareness Programme which supports the Protocol. Dredged Up explores the Protocol and the discoveries reported through the implementation service, and is widely distributed to BMAPA staff, heritage professionals and the general public.
Read the latest Newsletter below or download the pdfs below.
DownloadsDredged Up 22 Dredged Up 21 Dredged Up 20 Dredged Up 19 Dredged Up 18 Dredged Up 17 Dredged Up 16 Dredged Up 15 Dredged Up 14 Dredged Up 13 Dredged Up 12 Dredged Up 11 Dredged Up 10 Dredged Up 9 Dredged Up 8 Dredged Up 7 Dredged Up 6 Dredged Up 5 Dredged Up 4 Dredged Up 3 Dredged Up 2 Dredged Up 1
A report is produced once a year for this Protocol. To find out more read the latest review or download the pdfs below.