Maritime Archaeology Updates

Diving Deeper with the Maritime Archaeology Trust

Tag: Bouldnor Cliff (page 1 of 2)

Diving Week 13th to 16th June 2017

Diver being winched onto the boat after completing photogrammetry survey

The Maritime Archaeology Trust’s first proper fieldwork diving week took place in June. We were joined by researchers from the ForSEADiscovery  project who specialise in analysing wood for maritime archaeological research.

Setting off from Lymington in the New Forest aboard the Wight Spirit we headed off towards the Isle of Wight. The weather was delightfully sunny and we were hoping for great visibility below the surface!

The first of our chosen sites was the SS South Western. She was sunk by a torpedo south of the Isle of Wight on 16th March 1917, with only 6 survivors out of a crew of 32. Many of the crew members had links to Southampton and consequently the SS South Western becomes a prominent part of the local history. The ship is part of our current Forgotten Wrecks of WWI project which is looking at ships that were lost during WWI, of 1914 to 1918, on the south coast of England. More on the project can be found here .

The aims and objectives for this site was to identify some key features on the ship. This included a detail recording of the cargo and boilers, and also locating the ship’s gun. The dive team managed to achieve a good amount of data for photogrammetry . This data will be compiled into a detailed 3D model for us to study in the comfort our dry (but very hot!) office. For an example of what a photogrammetry model looks like, please see the model of the HMD John Mitchell here.

Brandon and Garry looking at data from the wreck sites

The second wrecksite we wanted to look at this week was the SS Hazelwoood. The ship hit a mine on the 19th October 1917, with the loss of all 32 crew members.  The location of the Hazelwood is still to be positively identified. However, our dive boat skipper and historian, Dave Wendes, believes that the wreck identified as the Saxmundham is in fact the SS Hazelwood. The wreck site is located at a depth of 32 meters. Previous dives on the site done in 2015 were plagued by poor visibility and as such we weren’t previously able to determine the identity of the wreck. This time the conditions were slightly better and we were able to conduct a photogrammetry survey. The photos taken of the site will be compiled into a 3D model which will hopefully help us determine the identity of the wreck once and for all.

The final site we looked at during this week was the submerged Mesolithic landscape at Bouldnor Cliff. The site dates back about 8000 years and has in-situ archaeological remains which are connected with the submerged landscape. The Mesolithic peat deposits lie at a depth of 12 meters, while two additional peat layers above broadly date to the Neolithic and Bronze Age. The aims and objectives of this survey was to check the erosion rate against the previously placed datum points across the site. We also took several sediment samples for palaeo-environmental analysis. Previous samples have concluded that e.g. wheat arrived in Britain 2000 years before we have evidence of humans farming it. Hopefully these new samples will add further knowledge into the nature of the landscape during the Mesolithic.

During the diving week we also had the pleasure of the company from a reporter, Rikke, who is doing coverage for BBC 3. Stay tuned for more updates during the summer!

Rikke querying Nigel and Garry about the finds

 

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!

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!

 

Bouldnor Cliff Day One: 14/06/16

The MAT Bouldnor Cliff dive team 2016

Just off the Isle of Wight is the site of Bouldnor Cliff. Bouldnor Cliff was a Mesolithic settlement, dating to 8,000 years ago. The finds from this site include worked timber and flints, and show that the inhabitants were using technology that was 2,000 years more advanced than expected in a site of this age!

The Mesolithic site is about eleven metres below the surface, and is part of the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation. Sadly, the tides of the Solent are eroding the site. More material is constantly being exposed, and subsequently is being threatened. The Maritime Archaeology Trust is working hard to monitor the site’s condition, and to recover material that is coming under threat.

The MAT is carrying out dives to create a record of the site, to document any changes that are taking place, and any exposed material. It is important to make frequent records of the site, and the plan is to use photogrammetry to create a 3D model. Divers first make a ‘pre-disturbance survey’, in order to ensure that the site is properly catalogued before making and changes or disturbing anything. Once the researchers are confident that there is a good record of the site and its contents, they are able to examine and rescue artefacts, and bring them to the surface for further study. These can be compared with the plan, in order to make note of where the artefacts were find, and piece together the site: a bit like putting together a big puzzle.

The divers set up a baseline at the site, in order to carry out the recording. A photographic survey was undertaken, to record the newly exposed features and document the site in its current condition, before any further work.

The first thing seen by the divers as they approached the site was some newly exposed timber, protruding from the bank. This timber was not visible last year, and has been revealed by the erosion. It appeared to have been worked, and looks like it may even be the remains of a platform. Later dives will aim to further study these timbers, and rescue them.

A later dive revealed a fellow archaeologist digging at Bouldnor Cliff: a lobster, with a collection of worked flints outside his burrow. Lobsters are frequent visitors to the site, and often turn up flints such as these. With the lobster’s help, the next dive recovered five small worked flints, and they were brought to the surface and inspected for the first time in 8,000 years.

The first day was a grand success, with four dives in total. The last of these dives included two new visitors; volunteers from Egypt who had come to see the site and assist in the photogrammetry. They were very impressed with what they saw, and can’t wait to return to the site and continue their study. The work at Bouldnor Cliff will continue, to ensure that the site is safe, any threatened material is recovered, and that we learn everything we can from this exciting site.

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Garry Momber talks Bouldnor Cliff
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Bouldnor Cliff #3 – Sunken Secrets

This is the last video before we go out diving!

This time Garry is visiting the Sunken Secrets Museum on the Isle of Wight. He shows us various pieces of timber, flint and string that has taught us a lot about the people living here during the mesolithic era. The findings are proving to be highly important, because they show the people were way more advanced than previously thought, by as much as 2000 years.

 

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Bouldnor Cliff #2 – past findings and discoveries

Our second video is out!

This time Sara Rich shows us some timber from earlier Bouldnor excavations and tells us what we can learn from them.

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Bouldnor Cliff #1 Where and what is it?

Take a look at our latest video!

Garry is on the Isle of Wight discussing what we find at Bouldnor Cliff. He shows us what the submerged forests look like and what we can learn about England in the mesolithic era, emphasising the importance of this site.

We are doing our best to retrieve as much as we can before it all erodes away.

You can help us save Bouldnor Cliff.

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Ask the Archaeologists!

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Do you have a burning question about maritime archaeology? Have you ever wanted to know what it’s really like to work underwater, or what our team think is the coolest thing they’ve found? Want to find out more about a specific site like Bouldnor Cliff?

Our team are here to answer your questions! Tweet or Facebook us with your questions with #AskTheArchaeologists

Twitter: @maritimetrust

Facebook: maritimearchaeologytrust

All questions will be answered the during the week of the 13th June, live from our dive boat and the Bouldnor Cliff fieldwork, so watch this space!

Underwater Survey and Excavation – Bouldnor Cliff

Excavating a 8000 year old boatyard?

Bouldnor Cliff is a 8000 year old site of human occupation that is now submerged 11 metres under the Solent on the Isle Of Wight. It is thought this site was on a lakeside originally – before the last Ice Age ended and sea levels rose. Bouldnor is teaching us a lot about wood working, for example how they built various huts, tools and canoes. String, wood, bone, foodstuff, ancient DNA of dog, auroch and wheat, the oldest boat building site in the world, as well as flint tools have all survived.

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