Maritime Archaeology Updates

Diving Deeper with the Maritime Archaeology Trust

Author: blog-mat-admin (page 1 of 3)

Maritime Archaeology Trust embraces the Isle of Wight Shipwreck Centre

To celebrate the MAT taking over the management of the Isle of Wight Shipwreck Centre and Maritime Museum an event on the 11th April welcomed over 130 guests to hear about the background to the centre, plans for the future and the significance of the collection for the Isle of Wight.

New MAT Patron Dan Snow officially opened the evening alongside the owner of the collection, Martin Woodward, MAT President Martin White, MAT Chairperson Michael Woodhall, MAT Director Garry Momber and key staff and supporters.

MAT plans to develop the centre over the coming years through further research on the artefacts, increasing space for new interpretation and adding shipwreck displays that use the latest high tech visualisation technology. These state of the art exhibits will attract a large audience providing sponsorship opportunities for affiliated businesses.

We hope to build a group of volunteers to help realise our plans and be involved with artefact recording, events and introducing members of the public to the collection. If you might be interested in volunteering at the centre, then please get in touch via: curator[at]maritimearchaeologytrust.org.uk

You can also support the MAT’s work at the Shipwreck Centre through:

Signing up for our Newsletter to get updates straight to your inbox  Newsletter sign-up

Becoming a Friend of the Trust for opportunities to be involved in exclusive events and activities http://www.maritimearchaeologytrust.org/friends

Tolkien arrives in Southampton on hospital ship: 100 years ago today

100 years ago today (09/11/1916), 24 year old 2nd Lieutenant John Ronald Reuel Tolkien arrived in Southampton, one of the hundreds of wounded and ill servicemen returning home aboard the Hospital Ship Asturiashmhs-asturias-2-1914-1917t-1

The Asturias was the third hospital ship to arrive in Southampton that day, the majority of injured coming fresh from the battles raging on the Somme. Tolkien had fought on the Somme and evaded injury, but four months of living in lice infested trenches had resulted in Trench Fever. Tolkien was taken by ambulance train from the battlefield to a hospital in Le Touquet where he remained for a week, but when his condition worsened he was ordered back to Blighty, sailing from Le Havre. On arrival in Southampton, ambulance trains were waiting to transport the patients to hospitals around the country, as close as possible to their home towns. Tolkien was put on a train bound for Birmingham where he would be reunited with his wife (whom he had barely seen since their wedding the year before). So efficient was the wartime transport system, that this whole journey was completed in a single day.

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Tolkien 1916

Tolkien spent the remainder of the war between hospital and Home Service camps. Although unable to fully shake off the illness, the lice probably saved his life, as following his departure, the remainder of his battalion, 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, 74th Brigade, were sent to Ypres where they were almost completely wiped out.

In his biography, Tolkien states that by 1918 all but one of his closest friends were dead. It was during the war years that he began to write. His experiences on the battlefields infused in his writing, evident in his most famous works: The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55). To read more about Tolkien’s war click here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/inside-first-world-war/part-two/10356085/jrr-tolkien-war.html

With hammocks for 1200 patients, the Asturias was one of the largest of the 77 Royal Navy Hospital Ships operating in WW1. The Asturias was one of many hospital ships sailing daily between Le Havre and Southampton. However being on board a hospital ship was no guarantee of safety. 24 hospital ships were sunk by enemy action with huge loss of life. The Asturias was no exception, torpedoed off the Devon coast on the 20th March 1917. Click here to read about the fate of the Asturias. http://forgottenwrecks.maritimearchaeologytrust.org/asturias

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Reproduced with the permission of Mike Greaves ASGFA www.greaves2connections.com

Lost beneath the waves: Ancient Landscapes and Wartime Wrecks

On Sunday 16th October, Garry Momber, Director of the Maritime Archaeology Trust, will be speaking at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.

Garry’s talk will cover two archaeological projects of major interest and importance to the Island:

Bouldnor Cliff: A submerged pre-historic site eleven meters below the surface and approximately 250 metres offshore of Bouldnor, near Yarmouth. Excavations have been continuing at Bouldnor Cliff since the 8,000 year old Mesolithic settlement was first identified in 1999, when a lobster was seen throwing Stone Age worked flints from its burrow. Since then the site has yielded numerous secrets. The material so far recovered has already demonstrated that the technology of the era was 2,000 years ahead of what archaeologists previously believed.

HLF Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War: With over 1000 wartime wrecks along England’s south coast alone, the conflict of WW1 has left a rich legacy and many associated stories of bravery and sacrifice. These underwater memorials represent the vestiges of a vital, yet little known, struggle that took place on a daily basis, just off our shores.

Time: 10.30 – 11.30 am

Location: Northwood House, Isle of Wight

Cost: £8.50

Book your tickets here!

Menhir de la Tremblais

Near the village of Saint-Samson-sur-Rance, in Brittany, France, we find this interesting Neolithic piece of stone.

Pierre Longue menhir of Thiemblaye

The menhir stands alone at 6 meters in length, leaning at just over  45 degrees. It is a large block of granite and quartz, with a relatively polished, flat look.

Most of the time that is all it seems to be. However, when the sun hits it just right, beautiful markings and carvings appear. Carvings of crosses, leaves, axes, waves and various animals.

 

There are several legends surrounding this monument. One legend says it is one of three stones closing the entrance to hell. This belief gave it the name “Bonde de l’Enfer,” loosely meaning “Leap From Hell.”

Another legend says that a young girl who wants to get married should climb on top of the menhir and slide down in her “birth pants.” Subsequently, she will be wed within a year.

A final legend tells a story of Samson of Dol who faced the temptations of the Devil nearby, and when the Devil failed, it whipped the stone, creating some of the marks we can see today.

 

 

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Remembering crew of newly designated wreck of HMT Arfon – mined 1917

HMT Arfon has been in the news recently, the wreck having been identified off Dorset by Martin, Bryan and the team at Swanage Boat Charters. It subsequently became the 52nd site to be designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/Arfon-Wreck-Protected) meaning that a licence is required to dive the site.

Ten of the Arfon’s 13 crew were killed when the vessel hit a mine while minesweeping in April 1917 and they have now been added to a new Community on the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ digital memorial. The Maritime Archaeology Trust’s HLF Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War project has created the Community and hopes that relatives of the Arfon’s crew, a number of whom are known to exist, may be able to add to the crews’ Life Story pages, with photos and information.

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The Arfon’s boiler, May 2016. Image: Maritime Archaeology Trust

The three crew members who survived the tragic accident will soon be added to the Community which can be found at:  https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/community/3850

In May of this year, MAT divers were excited to be able to join Swanage Boat Charters for a dive on the wreck of the Arfon. We were able to assist with taking survey photographs of some of the fascinating features, fixtures and fittings on this well preserved site. Unfortunately, the conditions were not quite clear enough to gain the photographs needed for producing a full 3D model of the site on this occasion.

Model volunteer!

Ken Manchip from the Fareham and District Model Engineering Society tells us how he ended up volunteering for the Maritime Archaeology Trust:

“The road leading to my building of the model steam pinnace started when the Fareham and District Model Engineering Society that I am a member of, played host to a representative of the Marine Archaeologist Trust, how gave us a talk on the underwater world in the Solent: identifying and investigating wrecks. This was received so well that we have left the door open for a return visit.

One of the sites the Trust have been researching and surveying in Gosport, Hampshire is the hulked remains of a steam pinnace that would have been in use during the First World War, Steam Pinnace 704. The Trust identified a model kit for a similar vessel and they thought such a model would be a suitable and beneficial aid for public outreach.

They approached the Model Engineering Society to see if we might be able to help with the building and as the representative of the Society’s Marine group the task was presented to me and I very willingly took up the challenge.

The model kit duly arrived and was found to be a wooden plank on frame, vacuum formed plastic superstructure, and plastic fittings, which I am familiar with. The kit included a side view plan and short explanation of stage build.

Described as a beginner’s kit, it very quickly became obvious that without considerable experience, skills and tooling, this build would have taken more than a month of approximately 2 hours a day and the end result would have been quite different! As with other models that I have been involved in, patience is the main skill to get one through. The moment you recognise what is in hand and where it is expected to go, is magic.

I enjoyed the challenge of building the steam pinnace model, which led me to surf the net to learn more of the history of the naval Pinnaces. The model will be exhibited at the Fareham and District Model Engineering Society Open Weekend at the end of July, before the Trust takes possession for use in their public outreach activities.

And what’s next for me? Maybe I will try the earlier 19th century model?…….”

Ken Manchip, Fareham and District Model Engineering Society

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You can see Ken’s steam pinnace model on the weekend of 30/31st July at the Fareham and District Model Engineering Society open weekend:

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Forgotten Wrecks of the Devon Coast: Geophysics and Diving

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Distribution of First World War wrecks within the Devon study area (image credit: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

As part of the Forgotten Wrecks project this summer the Maritime Archaeology Trust sent out a team of divers to find and document a number of WW1 wrecks off the South Devon Coast. In order to assist the divers in finding these wrecks bathymetric maps were consulted. Much like navigational charts used by mariners these maps show the topographic features of the seafloor. However, modern techniques such as multibeam bathymetry, paint a far higher resolution image of the seafloor with measurements made every few metres.  As a result, even fine details such as the orientation of shipwrecks and the positions of larger objects such as boilers and anchors on these sites, can be seen.

Within the area surveyed by the Maritime Coastguard Agency between 2012 and 2015 (data freely available from aws2.caris.com) 31 of the 48 wrecks which had been identified as lying within the south Devon study area reviewed ahead of diving operations were visible.

Once identified a zoomed in map was created of each wreck. The examples shown here are of the British Navy trawler, the Benton Castle and cargo ship, the Newholm. Both of which sank after hitting mines, leading to the loss of 30 lives in total. These images and images of the other wrecks were used by the diving team to help select individual sites to dive and then plan their dives more effectively.

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Geophysical survey image of the Benton Castle (image credit: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

Newholm_geophysics

Geophysical survey image of the Newholm (image credit: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

The dive team operated out of Dartmouth using Falcon Diving Charters (http://falcondivingcharters.com/) during the week of 27th June to the 1st July. Despite some challenging weather conditions the team managed to reach a number of the Forgotten Wrecks to undertake survey and photogrammetric recording.

Written by Amelia Astley

To find out more about the Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War project, click here.

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Diver photographs detail of the wreck structure of the Newholm.

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Marine life encrusts the remains of the wreck of the Benton Castle.

 

Across the Seas: ‘The Idol’, Peña Tú Asturias

Previously we have discussed some 3D-images of  French megaliths. The following 3D image is of a Neolithic stone shelter in Spain.

Located in the beautiful Sierra Plana de la Borbolla, at Llanes in Asturias, Northern Spain, ‘The Idol’ is a neolithic rock shelter which has preserved wonderful examples of prehistoric art.

The rock has been known by local inhabitants for a long time, but it was not until 1914 the first archaeological  investigations took place. ‘The Idol’ can be interpreted as a human form, featuring eyes, nose and feet wrapped in a cloth or robe. It might have represented a tribal elder or warrior, indicated by the adjacent dagger motif, thus making it likely that is was a funerary monument.

The images show crosses, demonstrating the site’s later Christianisation. In addition, we can find a faint animal motif and several red forms throughout.

It is likely that ‘The Idol’ is part of a series of sites dispersed across the region that are almost certainly connected with a wider common culture, stretching from Ireland to Scandinavia to Tunisia, in the Neolithic.

The site was surveyed by drone and Land Rover Defender.

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Bouldnor Cliff: A World Class Site

Mohamed Ziad

Mohamed and Ziad

Bouldnor Cliff isn’t just important from a British perspective: it is a unique site that interests people from all over the world! The diving team included archaeologists from the Maritime Archaeology Trust and even two divers who’d traveled all the way from Egypt to help with the work and see the remains of the Mesolithic settlement. Ziad and Mohamed flew to Britain when volunteers were needed to join the Bouldnor Cliff survey, and came to help with the photogrammetry work around the site. They’ve done work all around the world, including in Montenegro, Lebanon, Egypt and Italy, but this was their first time diving in the U.K.

Ready for that renowned British summer, Ziad and Mohamed joined the team on the boat, keen to explore the famous site. Undeterred by the wind and rain of the first day (it is summer, after all), they were ready to get stuck in and brave the chilly Solent. Layered up and as prepared as can be for the colder climate they jumped in to get to work. The cold was no match for their enthusiasm and they worked hard, familiarising themselves with the site and the new conditions.

And what did they have to say after their first dive? Ziad had only one word: ‘challenge’!

Now used to the cold and the weather, they carried on diving on the site, contributing hundreds of photos to the photogrammetric survey, and taking footage on a GoPro. Their dedication is such that the skipper even poured warm water into their wetsuits before a dive! Inspired by Ziad’s one-word summary, Mohamed described the site as an ‘adventure’.

Ziad and Mohamed aren’t the only members of the #SaveBouldnor team from abroad – Sarah is from the United States, and Miguel is a PhD student from Lisbon, Portugal. Sarah works at the Maritime Archaeology Trust, and considers the site to be ‘groundbreaking’!

Miguel came to Bouldnor Cliff to gain experience in a new environment, and to improve his skills in 3D reconstruction and recording. Miguel described the site as ‘exciting’ and has contributed a lot of work to the photographic record.

It’s not just maritime archaeologists who find Bouldnor Cliff fascinating – Andy has worked closely with the Trust for fifteen years. He finds the site ‘remarkable’, and, as a long-time diving enthusiast, is helping out on-site.

Bouldnor Cliff is a special site that is always turning up new information and fascinating artefacts. It has something of interest for people from all over the world, from different backgrounds, and this multi-national team has come together to work to save Bouldnor, and learn its secrets. Work like this is invaluable, and will contribute to the continuing record of Bouldnor Cliff, as the MAT monitor the site’s condition and explore new features.

Bouldnor Cliff Day Two: 15/06/2016

Photo 15-06-2016, 15 03 58  Another day on Bouldnor Cliff reveals another exciting discovery. Garry Momber took part in the day’s first dive, and began to clear away some of the layer of mud covering the site. Underneath this mud he found a series of planks lying parallel to each other. Further dives will include more work on this potential platform, so the archaeologists can try to interpret the feature and its purpose. Yesterday, a diver found and recovered a small piece of flat, pointed timber that may turn out to be the end of a plank. Garry also recovered a small piece of wood, demonstrating the excellent preservation on this site. It is still possible to find organic material that is over 8,000 years old!

Photo 15-06-2016, 15 20 56Miguel, Ziad, and Mohamed are still hard at work on the photogrammetric work. Miguel has been acting as underwater photographer, taking pictures of Garry at work and using a 6m x 2m grid to take photos to create a photogrammetric model of the site and some of the exposed timbers. Ziad and Mohamed are doing similar work, both with and without photogrammetric targets. The divers are working hard to ensure they don’t damage any of the exposed timbers as they do their work, and are being careful where they use targets. In places where the timber is fragile, it may be better to work without them. Eventually, the hundreds of photos taken will be combined together. They will be used to create a 3D model of the Mesolithic site, which can be manipulated and interpreted, and used for further study.

To everyone’s delight, the weather is much improved from yesterday, and conditions are much calmer. This is Ziad and Mohamed’s first time diving in the UK, but they are coping with the temperatures very well! On the third dive, the divers brought up some more timber which will be cleaned, and then studied for interpretation.

Every dive is revealing something new about the site. The researchers are keen to see what else can be learnt from this ancient settlement. Bouldnor Cliff is a unique site, and it has plenty more secrets to discover!

 

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