In 2009 the NAS took over the administration of the Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award from the Council for British Archaeology.

The Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award

The Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award is given for a work published which, in the opinion of the panel of judges, best reflects the interests, aspirations, and high scholarly standards of Keith Muckelroy, a young maritime archaeologist who died in a diving accident in 1980. Keith’s main published work, Maritime Archaeology (Cambridge, 1978), is still widely regarded as a milestone in the establishment of the discipline.

The Award is biennial, though it lost a year because of the Covid pandemic. Should no entry of sufficient merit be submitted during any two-year cycle the judges may, at their discretion, withhold the Award. In this event fresh submissions will be invited for consideration for an Award the following year.

There is no restriction on the nationality of the author, the place of publication, or the location of a project, though the work submitted must be in English. Nominated works should fall within the field of archaeology, and the judges have the right to reject nominations  which have no archaeological component.

The panel of judges currently includes:

  • Dr Colin Martin (University of St Andrews)
  • Dr Paula Martin (former IJNA Editor)
  • Dave Parham (University of Bournemouth)
  • Dr Mark Redknap (National Museum of Wales)
  • Dr Alison Sheridan (National Museums Scotland)

If any judge has to withdraw because a work by him/her is nominated, a temporary replacement may be appointed by the remaining judges.


The Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2023 

The following publications were nominated for the 2023 Award.

Shipwreck Hauntography: underwater ruins and the uncanny, by Sara Rich, was published by Amsterdam University Press in 2021, and nominated by Amsterdam University Press.

Contemporary Philosophy for Maritime Archaeology, by Sara Rich and Peter Campbell, was published by Sidestone Press in 2023, and nominated by Sidestone Press.

Cogs, Small Cogs and Boats, by Karel Vlierman, was published by SPA uitgevers in 2021, and nominated by Mark Redknap.

The Shipwreck at Gnalić: a Mirror to the Renaissance World, by Irena Radić Rossi and others, was published by Archaeopress in 2021 and nominated by Goranka Lipovac Vrkljan.

The Stirling Castle, a 70-gun Ship lost in the Great Storm of 1703: Archaeological Investigations 1979-2009, by Julian Whitewright, was published by BAR Publishing in 2020, and nominated by J Senior, Editor in Chief, BAR Publishing.

Armada: the Spanish Enterprise and England’s Deliverance in 1588, by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker, was published by Yale University Press in 2022, and nominated by Giles Richardson.

Apollonia on my Mind: the memoir of a paraplegic ocean scientist, by Nic Flemming, was published by Sidestone Press in 2021,and  nominated by Paula Martin.


The results of the Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2023 were announced at the AGM of the Nautical Archaeology Society on the 25th November 2023. Other entries, at the discretion of the judges, were awarded Certificates of Commendation.

2023 Winner: Cogs, Small Cogs and Boats, by Karel Vlierman, Zwolle, Netherlands, SPA Publishers, 2021, 998 pp. in 2 vols, numerous illustrations, mostly colour, 70 technical drawings, €149.95 (hbk with luxury box), ISBN 978-90-8932-048-3

"This is a very thorough and impressive work which, in the author’s words, ‘concentrates entirely on the hard data of all the recovered wrecks of ships that can be characterised as cogs’, providing ‘the essential primary material source for further historiography of shipping in Northwestern Europe in the Late Middle Ages’. Clearly the result of a considerable amount of time and effort, this two-volume work is an outstanding achievement, a major contribution to maritime archaeology, beautifully presented."


2023 Highly Commended: Apollonia on my Mind: the memoir of a paraplegic ocean scientist, by Nic Flemming, published by Sidestone Press in 2021.

"A beautifully written autobiography, which Keith would no doubt have enjoyed reading. The author’s life’s work has made a serious contribution to maritime archaeology, and he still plays an important role in the development of the subject. This publication illustrate the breadth and depth of his contributions, particularly through interdisciplinary work. It is an excellent demonstration of how long-term fieldwork and research can produce more profound impacts than shorter projects. The book is also an important personal perspective of the social history of one field of maritime archaeology and of progress in both this field and oceanography, in the context of developing multidisciplinary science and changing politics. The author’s observations and personal recollections of the development of the discipline and his own research and fieldwork make for an informative and particularly interesting read and provide a reminder of the collective value of recording these perspectives, which rarely appear in academic reports. His final note on the worrying impact of climate change is well made."

The judges felt that this book was so special that the author also deserved a Lifetime Achievement Award.


2023 Highly Commended: Armada: the Spanish Enterprise and England’s Deliverance in 1588, by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker, published by Yale University Press in 2022

"Extremely well written and crafted, and the maritime archaeology aspect was excellently woven into the wider historical narrative. An exemplar in storytelling through the critical and insightful detailed study of sources – historical and empirical archaeological data. This will make this important episode of European history, and the significant archaeological discoveries that have provided unique insights, accessible to a wider, non-specialist audience. While this edition is stronger on history than on archaeology, the archaeology helps to bring the story alive. As with some of the other nominated books this is a good example of the benefits of studying one topic over a long period, and how archaeological finds can add to the picture and stimulate further historical research."


2023 Commended: The Shipwreck at Gnalić: a Mirror to the Renaissance World, by Irena Radić Rossi and others, published by Archaeopress in 2021.

"This is an excellent interdisciplinary publication of the excavation of a significant late 16th-century shipwreck, bringing together detailed archival evidence with scientific analysis of the raw materials and semi-finished products that formed ship's cargo. The book is an extremely valuable presentation of the knowledge gained during underwater archaeological excavations and archival research, and contributes significantly to our understanding of the European and Ottoman world during the post-medieval period. An excellent model of how shipwreck archaeology, as a primary source of information, can provide new data and understanding of aspects of the human past, particularly when combined with new historical research. This work shows commitment to qualities valued by Keith Muckelroy: long-term persistence in the face of limited resources and illicit activity; investigation of documentary evidence; improvement in approach to excavation, conservation and cataloguing; contribution to establishment of maritime archaeology in Croatia. An accessible account of a shipwreck with a sad a past but we hope a healthier future."


2023 Commended: The Stirling Castle, a 70-gun Ship lost in the Great Storm of 1703: Archaeological Investigations 1979-2009, by Julian Whitewright, published by BAR Publishing in 2020.

"A sterling piece of work, this is a comprehensive synthesis of the diverse efforts by unfunded volunteers and professional teams to investigate a complex wreck-site and its vicissitudes over 30 years. It highlights the problems of managing maritime investigations when undertaken by many different ‘players’ and the shortcomings of wreck-protection legislation. The specialist analyses provide useful dated comparanda of ship fittings, weapons, navigation equipment, medical artefacts, food preparation and consumption, clothing and apparel, and a valuable if incomplete picture of life on board. It rightly praises the individuals and diving groups initially involved when the site was most vulnerable, but sidesteps some of the early political and funding issues despite the scale and importance of this shipwreck being immediately clear. The incomplete record of the hull structure and selective nature of the recovered artefacts well illustrate the potential loss of knowledge if the other three men-of-war lost in the Downs/Goodwins are not comprehensively recorded should they become exposed and at risk."


The Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2020

2020 Winner: On the Ocean - The Mediterranean and the Atlantic from Prehistory to AD 1500

For humans the sea is, and always has been, an alien environment. Ever moving and ever changing in mood, it is a place without time, in contrast to the land which is fixed and scarred by human activity giving it a visible history. While the land is familiar, even reassuring, the sea is unknown and threatening. By taking to the sea humans put themselves at its mercy. It has often been perceived to be an alien power teasing and cajoling. The sea may give but it takes.

Why, then, did humans become seafarers? Part of the answer is that we are conditioned by our genetics to be acquisitive animals: we like to acquire rare materials and we are eager for esoteric knowledge, and society rewards us well for both. Looking out to sea most will be curious as to what is out there - a mysterious island perhaps but what lies beyond? Our innate inquisitiveness drives us to explore.

Barry Cunliffe looks at the development of seafaring on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, two contrasting seas ― the Mediterranean without a significant tide, enclosed and soon to become familiar, the Atlantic with its frightening tidal ranges, an ocean without end. We begin with the Middle Palaeolithic hunter gatherers in the eastern Mediterranean building simple vessels to make their remarkable crossing to Crete and we end in the early years of the sixteenth century with sailors from Spain, Portugal and England establishing the limits of the ocean from Labrador to Patagonia. The message is that the contest between humans and the sea has been a driving force, perhaps the driving force, in human history.


The Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2017

All the nominated works in 2017 were interesting, in diverse ways. As ever, their diversity has made judging a challenge. The seven nominated books were: 

La Belle: the archaeology of a seventeenth-century ship of New World colonization, edited by James Bruseth, Amy Borgens, Bradford Jones and Eric Ray, published by Texas A&M University Press and nominated by Colin and Paula Martin.

Caligula's Barges and the Renaissance Origins of Nautical Archaeology Under Water, by John McManamon, published and nominated by Texas A&M University Press.

The Doel Cogs Research Project, consisting of four articles by various combinations of Luc Allemeersch, Aoife Daly, Koen Deforce, Kristof Haneca, Herman Stieperaere and Jeroen Vermeersch. Three were published in IJNA and one in the Journal of Archaeological Science, and they were nominated by Thomas Dhoop.

Jutland 1916: the archaeology of a naval battlefield, by Innes McCartney, published by Conway and nominated by Mike Williams.

Pudding Pan: a Roman Shipwreck and its Cargo in Context, by Michael Walsh, published and nominated by the British Museum Press.

Site Formation Processes of Submerged Shipwrecks, edited by Matthew Keith, published by the University Press of Florida and nominated by Ian Oxley. 

We Die Like Brothers: the sinking of the SS Mendi, by John Gribble and Graham Scott, published by Historic England and nominated by Claire Bick of Historic England. 

2017 Runner Up

The Doel Cogs articles describe how the finding of remains of parts of the hulls, but no other material, from two cogs stimulated a multidisciplinary research project which has provided much detail to move forward the study of the cog-type. The systematic and meticulous nature of the investigations is impressive. These papers illustrate well the value of detailed analysis and publication, and that subdividing large-scale projects into subject-specific outputs published through a journal with a wide readership can be as effective a way of delivering impact as waiting 20 years for a monograph. Keith would have approved of this approach, and the Doel Cogs papers are this year’s runner-up.

2017 Winner: La Belle: the archaeology of a seventeenth-century ship of New World colonization, edited by James Bruseth, Amy Borgens, Bradford Jones & Eric Ray

La Belle: the archaeology of a seventeenth-century ship of New World colonization, edited by James Bruseth, Amy Borgens, Bradford Jones & Eric Ray, is a thorough, wide-ranging and well-produced report on the excavation of, and subsequent study of material from, an unusual shipwreck. Keith would have been interested in the use of the coffer-dam, and in the range and quantity of finds, some of which are similar to those found on VOC ships and warships of the period, but some of which are specific to the nationality and purpose of this vessel. It offers a model of what other projects should strive to achieve on their sites, even if their resources are more limited than in this case. The judges were unanimous that the report on the excavation of La Belle is a clear winner of the Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award for 2017.


The Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2015

As ever, submissions covered a wide range of topics, which made assessment more difficult. One of them was co-authored by Dave Parham, so he had to stand down from the judging panel this year, leaving Colin Martin, Paula Martin, Mark Redknap and Alison Sheridan. Without this reduction to four it would have been almost impossible for the judges to read and circulate all the nominated books in the time available.

The number of nominations prompted the judges to look closely at the criteria. Nominated books should reflect the interests, aspirations, and high scholarly standards of Keith Muckelroy. This implies, in our judgement, nautical or maritime archaeology (interests), reaching testable archaeological conclusions by the systematic acquisition, processing, and analysis of data (aspirations), and the highest scholarly standards.

Given the quality of many of the nominations, it was clear that the winner was going to be among the works of primary research rather than more general publications. It is recommended that the wording of the announcement for the 2017 award should be re-drafted to explain more precisely the criteria expected. We don’t want to be so prescriptive as to exclude the innovative and original, but ‘nautical’, 'maritime' and above all ‘archaeology’ should be leading elements in all submissions.

The 2015 Winner: Claimed by the Sea, by Stuart Needham, Dave Parham and Catherine Frieman

The judges were unanimous in their choice of Claimed by the Sea, by Stuart Needham, Dave Parham and Catherine Frieman. This book is successfully edited to produce one clear, seamless narrative. It brings to fruition the major contributions made by Keith Muckelroy to the study of the Salcombe and Langdon Bay artefact assemblages and their relevance both to site-formation studies (addressing the question of whether they originated from wrecks, and if not, how can they be explained?), and to wider issues of maritime trade in the Bronze Age.

Keith undoubtedly saw these sites as bridges between underwater and terrestrial archaeology, crossing the artificial and unhealthy perceptual divide which then existed and to some extent still does. Archaeology is archaeology irrespective of the environment in which it is conducted, as this submission makes abundantly clear. It is beyond question that without Keith’s pioneering input these supremely important investigations would not have developed in the exemplary manner that has resulted in this publication.

Most of us were not aware of just how much effort and personal sacrifice Keith invested in ensuring the proper treatment of these initially unprotected sites, often in the face of legal and bureaucratic obstructions, so the detailed chronicling of the evolution of the two projects is an important and hitherto unpublished aspect of the early days of nautical archaeology in Britain. Top-quality scholarship is done justice by a beautifully produced book, demonstrating how a detailed consideration of all aspects of these sites, from discovery and site methodologies to geomorphology, artefact analysis, and modelling site-formation processes, creates new understandings of a very remote period. A significant contribution to knowledge through nautical archaeology, and a model report many would do well to emulate.


Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2013 

This was awarded for a work published after 1 January 2011 which, in the opinion of the judges, best reflects the interests, aspirations and high scholarly standards of Keith Muckelroy.

The joint winner of the 2013 Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award:

Britain Begins, by Barry Cunliffe, published by Oxford University Press.

Judges comments:Britain Begins is perhaps the most general work among recent nominations. Initially some judges thought that it might not fit the criteria for the award. However, all the judges were impressed by how a maritime perspective pervades the argument as a whole, and is not simply confined to discrete "boxes". This is just the sort of approach that would have appealed to Keith. An impressive volume, full of high-quality and relevant illustrations, it follows on from the holistic blending of terrestrial and maritime evidence in Cunliffe's Facing the Ocean (2001), and Europe Between the Oceans 9000BC to AD 1000 (2011), and follows a very similar format. It offers a holistic view of the origins of the British and Irish peoples, blending all aspects of archaeology, and much of its maritime interest comes from its mapping of evidence, often linking terrestrial and maritime routes and contacts. As such it forms a very accessible introduction to the story of Britain, and the narratives in the Guide to Further Reading are useful. A great strength is the interweaving of all types of evidence to create a well-balanced and authoritative narrative of a complex story. The centrality of things maritime, so well conveyed, will therefore find a wide readership.

The joint winner of the 2013 Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award

The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and its Mediterranean Context, by Shelley Wachsmann, published by Texas A&M University Press.

Judges comments: The Gurob Ship-Cart Model is an impressive and attractive piece of scholarship which we all felt that Keith would have enjoyed. It is tightly focused on an unusual and very narrow subject which the author considers with great originality and rigour. Wachsmann uses this discovery and his expertise on Bronze and Iron Age ships and seafaring to provide a thorough survey of the historical situation in the late second millennium BC, and the available evidence for early Mediterranean shipping, thereby giving the ship-model its wider context. It is also a very enjoyable read. In many ways this is maritime archaeology at its best.

Highly Commended - 2013 Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award

Submerged Prehistory, edited by Jonathan Benjamin, Clive Bonsall, Catriona Pickard and Anders Fischer, published by Oxbow Books.

Judges comments: Submerged Prehistory brings together 25 peer-reviewed contributions from leading authors, highlighting significant advances in our understanding of submerged prehistoric sites and landscapes. A must for all interested in archaeology, it provides a salutary reminder of our hidden landscapes, often omitted from archaeological surveys. Thirteen of the papers were presented at the European Association of Archaeologists’ annual meeting in 2009, so the volume is 50% conference proceedings, and has the inevitable uneven quality of any book of collected essays. While there is much interesting and useful material, it does not have the space to develop some subjects as much as the reader would like. It does not, therefore, have the necessary star quality, either as a whole or in any individual part.

Weapons of Warre: the armaments of the Mary Rose, by Alexzandra Hildred, with 39 contributors, published by the Mary Rose Trust.

Judges comments: Weapons of Warre, volume 3 of the series of final thematic publications on the Mary Rose, is a valuable and comprehensive work, of higher quality than some of its sister volumes.

It is one of the most detailed studies of its type ,with contributions from nine major contributors and 30 other specialists. It is a tremendous piece of work – competent, detailed and comprehensive, despite being completed under trying conditions. But it is straight archaeological reporting rather than a research document,  and leaves you wanting more.


Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2011

This was awarded for a work published after 1 January 2009 which, in the opinion of the judges, best reflects the interests, aspirations and high scholarly standards of Keith Muckelroy.

The winner of the 2011 Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award

Carpow in Context: a Late Bronze Age Logboat from the Tay by David Strachan (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2010).

Runner-up - 2011 Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award:
Crumlin-Pedersen, Ole, Archaeology and the Sea in Scandinavia and Britain: a personal account (Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 2010).

Highly Commended - 2011 Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award:
Benjamin, Jonathan, 'Submerged Prehistoric Landscapes and Underwater Site Discovery: Reevaluating the "Danish Model" for International Practice', Journal of Island and Coastal
Archaeology, October 2010.


Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2009

In 2009 six works were nominated. All were of a high standard, and the breadth and depth of their subject matter made them hard to compare. Three journal articles were nominated along with three longer monographs and for the next award the judges may be considering whether there should be two awards, one for a monograph and one for a journal article.

In ranking the submissions the judges followed the criterion that the winning entry should be the one that ‘best reflects the interests, aspirations of Keith Muckelroy’. In other words, which would Keith himself have chosen?

The Winner of the 2009 Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award

The Underwater Archaeology of Red Bay: Basque Shipbuilding and Whaling in the 16th Century, edited byRobert Grenier, Marc-André Bernier and Willis Stevens, with numerous contributors and an editorial team. The five-volumes set, in either English or French, was published by Parks Canada in 2007.

The judges were unanimous in declaring this is the winner of the Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2009.

Runners Up - Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2009
The Solutrean Atlantic Hypothesis: a View from the Ocean, by Kieran Westley and Justin Dix, was published in the Journal of the North Atlantic in 2008.

The Use of a High-Resolution 3D Chirp Sub-Bottom Profiler for the Reconstruction of the Shallow Water Archaeological Site of the Grace Dieu (1439), River Hamble, UK, by Ruth Plets, Justin Dix, Jon Adams, Jonathan Bull, Timothy Henstock, Martin Gutowski and Angus Best, was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science in 2009.

Rigorous Reasoning, Reflexive Research and the Space for 'alternative Archaeologies'. Questions for Maritime Archaeological Heritage Management, by Jesse Ransley, published in IJNA in 2007.

Highly Commended 2009 - Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2009
Old Ships of the New Gate. Volume 1, edited by Ufuk Kocabas, was published by Istanbul University Yenikapi Shipwrecks Project in 2008.

Classic Ships of Islam: from Mesopotamia to the Indian Ocean, by Dionysius Agius, published in 2007 by Brill.


Frequently Asked Questions

Question - Does my proposed work fit the criteria?
Answer - the criteria have been deliberately made broad, and if you think a work fits the definition set out in the first sentence of the call for nominations, then please go ahead with it.

Question - Why is there an overlap between the periods of nomination?
Answer - simply to allow time for new publications to come to the attention of proposers. The period is two calendar years plus the first four months of the year in which nomination calls are made (usually every second year). Otherwise something published close to the close of nominations might not be noticed until it was too late.

Question - Who are the judges for the Award?
Dr Colin Martin (University of St Andrews), Dr Paula Martin (former Editor, IJNA), Dave Parham (University of Bournemouth), Dr Mark Redknap (National Museum of Wales) and Dr Alison Sheridan (National Museums of Scotland).

Question - What is the first prize?
Answer - a very heavy trophy. There is no money involved, just the publicity, and a certificate.