Our origins

The Nautical Archaeology Society began in 1964 as the Council for Nautical Archaeology (CNA) which had the remit to act as a channel of communication between divers and the appropriate learned bodies to share discoveries within the field of marine archaeology.

Council membership initially included the Council for British Archaeology, the British Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Institute of Archaeology at London University, the Society for Nautical Research, the Society for Post Medieval Archaeology and the British Sub-Aqua Club.

The CNA established the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (IJNA) and the Nautical Archaeology Trust in 1972, which would eventually become NAS. It also played a key part in what became the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

CNA’s Nautical Archaeology Trust was registered as a charity in 1972 as the CNA’s charitable arm. Its objectives were "the furtherance of research into nautical archaeology and the publication of the results of such research together with the advancement of training and education in the techniques pertaining to the study of nautical archaeology for the benefit of the public.”

In 1974, chairman of the CNA and of NAT, Professor WF Grimes, proposed that what was needed was a membership society. The new society’s inaugural meeting eventually took place in 1981 with Joan du Plat Taylor as the first president.

Prof W.F. Grimes (from Wikipedia)

Initially, the activities of the Trust were separated from the members of the society but this started to change in 1984 when the CNA was incorporated into the Council for British Archaeology as one of its research sub-committees.

In July 1986 members of the Trust voted to change its name to the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) along with its constitution to reflect the change to a membership organisation.

NAS continued to have responsibility for producing the IJNA and in the same year it ran its first educational events.

The NAS academic journal The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (IJNA) marked its 40th Volume in 2011 and a special 40th Anniversary Virtual Issue was published. It featured key investigations and developments in the field of nautical archaeology published over the last four decades.


Our logo

An article about our logo by Valarie Fenwick that appeared in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology in 29.1 (2000) can be read here.

Jug/BM Museum number 1926,0628.9

Pottery jug in Bichrome Ware with a figural scene of a merchant ship; the scene shows a schematic, cutaway view of a ship: two amphorae with bull-eye motifs on the body (resembling SCE Type X) sit in the hold flanking a central mast; on one side a sailor, standing on the poop deck and facing forward towards the viewer, manipulates what appears to be a round anchor; to the left of the amphora at the stern end, another sailor controls two oars or the helm, while a third mariner, outside the stern at the back, is shown defecating on a large fish (perhaps a shark or tuna) following the ship; the fish is schematically shown, with exaggerated fins and a large profile eye.

Culture/period: Cypro-Archaic I term details
Date: 750 BC-600 BC
Made in: Cyprus
Found/Acquired: Said to be from the Karpas Peninsula
Dimensions: height: 15.9cm