NAS Conference 2014 Speakers and Abstracts

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Mitigating a Life of Crime: Archiving and Publication

Dr Colin Martin, University of St Andrews

Archaeologists who dig sites, whether on land or underwater, are morally (and often legally) obliged to publish their results and deposit their records where they can be safely housed and consulted by future researchers. But how many of us really achieve this state of grace? My involvement with historic shipwrecks has spanned six decades, and I have excavated six sites in Scottish and Irish waters. All have, to some extent, been published, but mostly these have been interim reports or papers on specialised topics. I plead guilty to the widespread proclivity of archaeologists to dig one more site before tackling the backlog, or – as in my case – arguing to myself that my primary duties as a university teacher left little time for research and the onerous tasks of preparing material for publication. That could wait, I told myself, until retirement.

I’ve now been retired for more than ten years, so have I atoned for my crimes? I hope so. This talk will summarise my publication and archiving activities over the past decade, ably assisted by my long-time wife and research partner, and former editor of IJNA, Dr Paula Martin. We still have some way to go, but we’re getting there.

Dr Colin Martin

A new era of investigation on the wreck of HMS Invincible, 1758

Daniel Pascoe, Pascoe Archaeology Services

HMS Invincible was a third rate man of war of 74 guns which wreck in the Eastern Solent in 1758. The site was investigated by a team led by Commander John Bingeman between 1979 and 2010. In that time excavations discovered the remains of the port side which was preserved from the bow to the stern and from the gun deck down to the floor. 34 years on Archaeologist, Dan Pascoe has taken over the responsibility of investigating the site. In this presentation he will discuss the most recent work and how the loss of sediments around the site have revealed large areas of previously unexplored starboard side structure.

Dan Pascoe

The Historical Archaeology of WW2 U-boat Wrecks

Dr Innes McCartney, Periscope Publishing

Research into the archaeology and distribution of 28 U-boat wrecks in the English and Bristol Channels, sunk in 1944 -1945 reveals that a high proportion of them do not match the losses officially published in 1946.

Through historical research and archaeological recording, all of these wreck sites can now be given identities. What this process has revealed is how and why the Allies did and did not correctly assess these losses during wartime. It gives a unique insight into antisubmarine warfare at the time and illuminates the vital importance of Special Intelligence as derived by Bletchley Park.

This presentation will preview research from "The Maritime Archaeology of A Modern Conflict" (McCartney, 2014) and will examine the distribution of U-boat wrecks in the English Channel compared against the Admiralty’s Anti-U-Boat Division list of sunk U-boats, 1946. The two are very different and I will be explaining how and why this is the case by examining some of the wreck/sinking events and showing how the accuracy of tracking/losses declined in 1944.

Innes McCartney

The Embo Zulus

Joanna Hambly, Research Fellow, The SCAPE Trust, University of St Andrews

And Jonie Guest, The North of Scotland Archaeology Society (NOSAS).

As darkness fell at the end of a coastal survey day out in February 2013, a group from NOSAS encountered the remains of numerous wooden boats in a small tidal loch on the northeast coast of Scotland.

Apart from a single newspaper clipping from the Northern Times in 1995, these boats were undocumented. The newspaper article wrote that they were the remains of the Embo fishing fleet, which ‘after the war (presumably the Great War) due to so many not returning and the migration of the herring that the boats constituting the fleet were taken round to Loch Fleet and burned’.

This paper will look at how a joint community project between the SCAPE Trust, NOSAS the NAS and the local people of Embo and Dornoch has been so effective at creating a high quality record of the Loch Fleet remains whilst uncovering the truth about a local story with national resonance.

Embo Zulus

Review of Roman Shipwrecks around Guernsey

Richard Keen, NAS member

St Peter Port on the east coast of Guernsey has been recognised as a natural safe-haven and anchorage since prehistoric times. A very few sherds of Roman pottery were found in the 19th century, but it was not until the 1980s that the discovery of substantial amounts of material began to reveal a picture of the island in the Roman period.

To date upwards of five wreck sites have been identified, including one area where large quantities of pottery continue to be recovered by local scallop dredgers.

The most important of the discoveries has been that of a Gallo-Roman trading vessel (named rather fancifully “Asterix”) which was found in the current entrance to St Peter Port and excavated between 1985 and 1986.

Prior to this, a coherent assemblage of mid-2nd century amphora was found 200 meters east of the St Peter Port pier heads The speaker will talk on recent discoveries on this wreck site, and will examine Roman material from other submerged sites. He will also mention several recent Iron Age and Roman land excavations in Guernsey.

In conclusion he will review possible reasons for the finding of such a number of sites in such a relatively small area, and will suggest possible causes for the loss of these ships.

Roman Shipwrecks

The London Wreck Experience

Steve and Carol Ellis

Our presentation is about a small group of local divers with an interest in local maritime history who were invited to become licensees to a 17th century protected wreck “The London”, which blew up off Southend in the Thames Estuary in 1665.

We share our account of our personal experiences of the very challenging conditions and explain how we overcame the potential hazards of the site, including how we were able to measure and record to produce an initial site plan of what remains of the wreck site and how we think she lies in the silt.

With full support from English Heritage and the Port of London, discoveries out on the site led to a very exciting journey of mutual learning with professional archaeologists/ specialists and training from the Nautical Archaeology Society.  The Southend Museum Service has also offered to receive our finds for future display.

We now hope to have a better understanding of this wreck which is the last surviving 2nd rate "large ships" of the three that were built between 1642 and 1660. We also hope to gain more knowledge from our finds of life aboard a 17th century British warship.

London Wreck

The Bamburgh Wreck: Opportunity in the inter-tidal zone

Kevin Stratford, Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust

Wreck sites the world over spanning centuries of our global maritime past are occasionally discovered by divers and beach combers. In still many cases, these sightings are almost as quickly forgotten or just plundered as “lumps of metal on the seabed” or “rotten bits of sodden wood”, signifying nothing. This reckless attitude, however, has shown marked change in recent years in the UK with the growth in the availability of specialist diver education and training programmes, reflecting a demand for knowledge and a move away from considering marine life as the only underwater entertainment.

This talk presents a case study for the crucial role played by recreational sports divers, avocationals interested in exploring and appreciating their past, and the challenge presented to the professional practitioners and governments in both fostering this community and in advancing access to speciality training to as wide a community of recreational divers as possible. 

Kevin Stratford