Long time NAS member Therese Kearns, Programme Officer for the South Devon Rivers Discovery Programme, reflects on her first few months of working on CITiZAN's new initiatives, and what exciting opportunities they have coming up...

Exploring hulked vessels on the River Dart

Having previously worked for CITiZAN as the Archaeologist for Training in the South West, I was delighted to re-join the team for this new exciting phase of the project, which will see the development of six new Discovery Programmes around the English coast: across Humberside, Liverpool Bay, Mersea Island, East Kent Coast, Solent Harbours and South Devon Rivers.  

The Discovery Programmes will continue to focus on coastal and intertidal archaeology, which is at an increased risk due to the processes associated with climate change. We will also continue to work with volunteers from local communities in each Discovery Programme Area.  Over the coming months we hope to run a series of training and outreach sessions where people can get involved in various ways.  These events will be advertised on our website, and on our social media platforms – so keep your eyes peeled for events happening near you!

Documenting some of the hulked vessels found on the River Dart

In this phase of the project, we are also working to develop a series of Low Tide Trails in collaboration with the National Trust and Natural England’s Living Coast Project, and we hope that these trails will help to further enhance some of the stunning walking routes around our beautiful coast, as well as raise awareness of the incredibly rich archaeology in and around these areas. We also hope to encourage Responsible Stewardship and the adoption of best practice guidance in coastal stewardship in collaboration with colleagues from National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the RSPB.

As Programme Officer for the South Devon Rivers, I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work in such a beautiful area, with such a rich and diverse heritage.  The Discovery Programme area stretches from Wembury (just east of Plymouth) to Seaton, with a focus on the Rivers Exe, Teign and Dart, each of which have a unique character.  Over the past few months we have been developing our exciting plans for the project, visiting potential training sites, and liaising with local groups - with whom we hope to work closely with over the next three years.

Last week, my colleague Grant and I spend several days exploring sites on the River Dart along with our friends from the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are very excited about the wide range and potential of sites; which include hulked vessels, coastal industries, submerged landscapes and coastal defences.  Our training programme will begin on the River Dart and we will be announcing more details very soon.

Roger English & Nicky Bailey (South Devon AONB) with Grant Bettinson (CITiZAN Senior Community Archaeologist) at Galmpton lime kiln.

One of the many things that I love most about my job is working with volunteers who are a constant source of knowledge, enthusiasm and inspiration. Once we announce our training events, there will be an opportunity for people to sign up to come and join us. We can’t wait to get out and about for what we hope will be an interesting and fun filled summer!

This exciting project is once again generously funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with further support from Historic England, The National Trust and Lloyd’s Register Foundation.  We are delighted to continue our partnership with The Nautical Archaeology Society and the Council for British Archaeology and to develop new University partnerships with the Universities of Liverpool, Hull, Southampton, Winchester, University College London, and Canterbury Christ Church University.

The South Devon Rivers Programme will be officially launched on Friday 31 May 2019 in the Devon and Exeter Institution in Exeter, UK. Limited spaces are still available for this event, which can be booked through Eventbrite here - I hope to see you there!