The Forton Lake project, which investigated the hulks and history of the area in Gosport from 2006-2008, was a collaborative project between the NAS and the Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA).
Funding and sponsors
The project was initially granted a £25,000 Heritage Lottery Fund to fund two years of fieldwork and public outreach activities, including activity days and site tours. Further support from St Vincent’s College and the Nationwide Building Society followed and in 2008, the project received a grant from the Crown Estate to fund the last year of fieldwork in 2008 and a publication on the results.
Other project partners and sponsors include the Local Heritage Initiative and Gosport Borough Council.
The project was a community based heritage initiative that allowed local residents to take part in the practical archaeological tasks of photographing, surveying excavating and researching some of the abandoned vessels in the lake. Participants included members of the local community, students from St Vincent’s College, Gosport and volunteers from the NAS and HWTMA.
Forton Lake was in use as early as Saxon times and has been continually in use since then. There are at least 20 abandoned vessels of different ages and types some with local significance.
The hulks were numbered from FL1 to FL30 and over three years investigations were undertaken to establish the archaeological significance of the hulks. This involved assessing and drawing the hulks to a scale of 1:20. Over the second and third seasons sites FL5, FL15 and FL29 were selected for excavation. Post excavation the trenches were drawn both in plan and section for analysis.
Education and outreach
The project aimed to highlight the importance of maritime archaeology to the whole community by encouraging hands-on involvement. All participants were given instruction in the classroom by way of the NAS introduction course. This was then followed by instruction in the field. At the end of the project the volunteers were able to conduct a basic archaeological survey independently.
Between 2009 and 2012 the project partners worked to publish and disseminate the findings. The results were published in a local history booklet and a full monograph publication (details below), and presented in a month long exhibition in January 2010 held locally in Gosport. An interpretation panel designed by Alison James is due to be installed around the lake detailing its heritage. This is due to be installed at the Millennium footbridge at the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower.
The Forton Lake Archaeology Project – NAS Monograph 3 – By Mark Beattie-Edwards (NAS) and Julie Satchell (HWTMA)
Forton’s Forgotten Fleet – local history booklet