The 2013 Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) conference was the busiest yet with over 180 delegates in attendance ranging from international students through to top marine archaeology academics.
Lucy Blue, vice president, NAS, said whereas previous conferences have been a little bit inward, they have become more outward facing over the years and have become a focus of international importance for the field.
She added: “The conference is important on multiple levels, everyone can get involved and they’ve become an important annual event on the marine archaeology calendar as a knowledge sharing platform.”
Feedback from the delegates was positive. Janet Priestly, a NAS member and non-diver, said: “I really enjoyed the programme. I’m an amateur archaeologist with a real passion for foreshore archaeology and I wasn’t made to feel left out because I’m a non-diver.”
Meanwhile, Liz and Rory Suggitt from the TAL dive club in Christchurch, Dorset UK, were first-timers this year. They are also NAS ELearners who have been working on their introduction and part 1 certificates in underwater and foreshore archaeology.
Liz Suggitt said: “The conference is great because we’re getting to discover what other nautical archaeology is out there. We’ve been spreading the word about NAS ELearning to our dive club and hope to do some wreck surveying off of Boscombe Pier next year to put our new found skills into practice.”
The speakers were upbeat about this year’s conference too. Martin Read, University of Plymouth, said it was a great opportunity to help promote the work he is conducting with the archive of the Cattewater wreck.
Cattewater is thought to be a Tudor armed merchant ship. It was discovered in 1973 and became the first wreck to be protected by the UK government. Martin Read is working to catalogue the archive, now held by the Plymouth City Museum, for which only 40% of the 720 finds from the original excavation remain.
“This year is the 40th anniversary of the wreck’s discovery which we’re using as an opportunity to promote the lessons we have learnt about the importance of conservation and good archiving,” he added.
He added that the NAS conference was a good platform in which to do this. Not only did he manage to promote the work he is doing, but also to track down some missing finds to return back to the archive.
The Guildford BSAC team, runners-up in the NAS Adopt-a Wreck award, were overjoyed to receive their trophy at the conference for their HMT Pine Project. Anne-Marie Mason said: “We’re over the moon to have the project recognised. We’ve been working to map the wreck in a systematic way over the last 18 months which has been a challenge.”
HMT Pine was an armed trawler lost during the second world war. Guildford BSAC adopted the Pine dive project in 2000 and drew upon the NAS objectives to increase awareness of underwater archaeological sites.
The team now plans to widen research to find out how the trawler fits in with other armed wrecks lost in the Second World War.
The day after the conference, a small number of delegates attended a VIP tour to the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, courtesy of NAS vice president, Chris Dobbs.
Next year’s conference will be held in collaboration with the Thames Discovery Programme and will be held in London, UK from 15 to 18 November 2014.
Awards at a glance
Winner NAS Adopt-a-Wreck award 2013 - Jorge Russo, SS Dago
Runner-up NAS Adopt-a Wreck award - Guildford BSAC team, HMT Pine Project
NAS photography competition - Twelve winners but overall winner was Edward Cordell for 'Some day my planks will come'
John Starkie Maritime Ethnographic Awards for ethnographic survey - José Mannuel Matés Luque and Mallary Hass
Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2013 for published work on maritime archaeology - Joint winners ‘Britain Begins’ (Barry Cunliffe) and ‘The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and its Mediterannean Context’ (Shelley Wachsmann)