I was fortunate enough to join the NAS in the exciting, and somewhat hectic, week leading up to the conference. Some might say that I ‘dove head first into the deep end’, which seems appropriate within the context of the presentations I watched over the course of the weekend, but it did prove a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about the underwater world of maritime archaeology and meet the multitude of NAS members who were so passionate about their field, and the Society.  

Listening to all of the incredible speakers discuss the projects they undertake, and the leaps they’re making within the field, was truly inspiring. As someone with no archaeological background whatsoever, and a non-diver to boot, I found myself completely enthralled with all I was learning, and I never once felt disinterested, or out of my depth. If you were unlucky enough to miss the conference, you can catch up on some of the talks on our YouTube page here.

You may be wondering why someone with no background in archaeology, and no tenuous links to the sea (apart from originating from the home of the Newport Medieval Ship) is now working within the small but dedicated NAS team. Back in August 2018, the NAS were awarded funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund to aid them in their objective of advancing education and awareness of nautical and maritime archaeological heritage, to ensure future generations will be able to access it. This funding will cover the creation and implementation of a strategic plan, to improve engagement, communication and fundraising activities across the NAS, involving the addition of a new Public Engagement Officer position – an opportunity I was delighted to take on.

My vision, and one of the aims of the strategic plan, will be to open the work of the NAS to a wider and more diverse audience, including people just like me; those with little understanding of archaeological practice, but a passion for preserving our heritage, and an interest in playing a part in it. Our vast history plays a vital part of who we are today, and without the ability to access and learn about stories from the past, we hinder the future – a cause I’m sure everyone can get on board with.

From speaking with NAS members during the conference, it’s clear that there is already so much dedication directed at protecting our underwater heritage, and discovering, preserving and researching fragments of our past lost to natural forces and history. It’s this passion I’d like to explore, and much like the work discussed by the speakers at the conference, I’d like to harness it, preserve and expand it for the next and future generations.

I have set up a few meetings over the next few weeks with members of the NAS and aim to promote a dialogue with as many people as I can, to explore ideas, and ensure that the strategy utilises the thoughts of those most important to the NAS – it’s members!

If you’d like to contact me, I would be more than happy to hear your thoughts. You can email me on [email protected], or learn more about me on our website here