Maritime Archaeology Updates

Diving Deeper with the Maritime Archaeology Trust

Tag: Forgotten Wrecks

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

 

Volunteer in Focus: Mike Greaves

In light of National Volunteer Week 2017, the Maritime Archaeology Trust would like to highlight some of the important work contributed by our volunteers. We sent out a questionnaire for our volunteers to fill in and give us their view on what it is like to volunteer for the Maritime Archaeology Trust. This is what Mr Mike Greaves thought.

What do you do as a volunteer for the Maritime Archaeology Trust?

Artist in Residence

How did you get involved?

Through Southampton University. My wife Kate and I got involved initially doing research for MAT at Kew.

Anything you have learnt from working with the Trust?

Where do I start? I’ve learnt about boats. WW1 wrecks, WW1 technology, WW1 social history for example how arrogant the Admiralty was in advising families about loved ones lost at sea.

Have you enjoyed anything in particular?

Everything I have done. My work with MAT has given me greater confidence with my painting, taking me out of my comfort zone of buildings and cityscapes to tackle new subjects eg. Submarines, ships and people.

The patience shown to me by a team of experts faced with the trite questions of an obvious novice.

Editor’s Note: Mike’s own website can be found here

Examples of the beautiful artwork Mike has created for us

To learn more about what kind of work our volunteers do for the Trust, see the following blog post: http://blog.maritimearchaeologytrust.org/national-volunteering-week-1st-june-7th-june-2017/

Have you got a spare hour or day in the week and looking for something to do? Fancy learning new skills in archaeology? Want to learn more about our maritime heritage? Well why not drop us an email on volunteering@maritimearchaeologytrust.org today and find out more?

Volunteer in Focus: Peter Crick

In light of National Volunteer Week 2017, the Maritime Archaeology Trust would like to highlight some of the important work contributed by our volunteers. We sent out a questionnaire for our volunteers to fill in and give us their view on what it is like to volunteer for the Maritime Archaeology Trust. This is what Mr Peter Crick thought.

What do you do as a volunteer for the Maritime Archaeology Trust?

Mainly I have transferred data of ships and  artefacts  from survey sheets into the main Database.  I have also been to The National Archives and researched ships and events which have then also been transferred into the database

How did you get involved?

I responded to an advert MAT had placed in our Community Magazine  – in Hamble-le-Rice

Anything you have learnt from working with the Trust?

A lot about the Naval War during WW1

Have you enjoyed anything in particular?

The learning has been fascinating- a whole new arena of knowledge and human activity…. And a confirmation of my perception that all war is a terrible futile activity.   It has also been a pleasure to encounter the Project staff – who without exception have been an absolute delight to be with.

To learn more about what kind of work our volunteers do for the Trust, see the following blog post: http://blog.maritimearchaeologytrust.org/national-volunteering-week-1st-june-7th-june-2017/

Have you got a spare hour or day in the week and looking for something to do? Fancy learning new skills in archaeology? Want to learn more about our maritime heritage? Well why not drop us an email on volunteering@maritimearchaeologytrust.org today and find out more?

Volunteer in Focus: Richard Wyatt

In light of National Volunteer Week 2017, the Maritime Archaeology Trust would like to highlight some of the important work contributed by our volunteers. We sent out a questionnaire for our volunteers to fill in and give us their view on what it is like to volunteer for the Maritime Archaeology Trust. This is what Mr Richard Wyatt thought.

What do you do as a volunteer for the Maritime Archaeology Trust?

Production of Podcasts, re-organisation of basement storage, on-line research, field surveys, archive research, Fort Victoria audios, Maritime Bus, website proof-reading and editing, IT support.

How did you get involved?

An interest in archaeology (via ex-girlfriend), love of sailing & the sea (star-sign Cancer) via SVS and enthusiasm of Gareth Owen.

Anything you have learnt from working with the Trust?

Survey techniques, use of audio equipment (including software), the beauty of 1st edition OS maps, the mind-boggling resource that is the National Archives. Oh, and a great deal about the Hamble River (except whether it should the River Hamble.)

Have you enjoyed anything in particular?

The session at The Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis after re-organising the servers, getting out of the wind and onto a relatively smooth surface after several hours on Oyster Island, and the engine-room of SS Shieldhall. But especially the assistance and appreciation of the MAT team.

To learn more about what kind of work our volunteers do for the Trust, see the following blog post: http://blog.maritimearchaeologytrust.org/national-volunteering-week-1st-june-7th-june-2017/

Have you got a spare hour or day in the week and looking for something to do? Fancy learning new skills in archaeology? Want to learn more about our maritime heritage? Well why not drop us an email on volunteering@maritimearchaeologytrust.org today and find out more?

Volunteer in Focus: Rachel Patten

In light of National Volunteer Week 2017, the Maritime Archaeology Trust would like to highlight some of the important work contributed by our volunteers. We sent out a questionnaire for our volunteers to fill in and give us their view on what it is like to volunteer for the Maritime Archaeology Trust. This is what Ms Rachel Patten thought.

What do you do as a volunteer for the Maritime Archaeology Trust?

I do data entry which has so far included:

Entering information about shipwrecks of WW1 from different sources such as digital copies of old shipping documents and researchers hand written notes into an Excel database.

Inputting survey data from questionnaires given to people at event talks into an online database.

Making digital copies of physical documents and sorting documents into the correct folders.

 

How did you get involved?

I wanted real world experience in data entry so an education and employment advisor from the council suggested the Maritime Archaeology Trust to me.

 

Anything you have learnt from working with the Trust?

I have learnt of the vast amount of work done by the trust to keep people informed about marine archaeology and in particular the work done about the shipwrecks of WW1 and WW2.

I have learnt of the sheer amount of wrecks in the local area.

I have learnt how they are using virtual reality in order to show people the wrecks.

I have learnt how to do data entry with a variety of sources and applications.

 

Have you enjoyed anything in particular?

I have enjoyed the variety of work I have been assigned.

I have enjoyed working with a happy and supportive team.

To learn more about what kind of work our volunteers do for the Trust, see the following blog post: http://blog.maritimearchaeologytrust.org/national-volunteering-week-1st-june-7th-june-2017/

Have you got a spare hour or day in the week and looking for something to do? Fancy learning new skills in archaeology? Want to learn more about our maritime heritage? Well why not drop us an email on volunteering@maritimearchaeologytrust.org today and find out more?

National Volunteering Week 1st June to 7th June 2017

As a non-profit charity organisation, the Maritime Archaeology Trust is very dependent on the amazing work our volunteers do for us! Over the years our volunteers have joined us in numerous projects and helped complete various tasks.

The people who work with us have come from various different backgrounds and bring in a range of skills which has been a tremendous resource for us. We have had divers provide us with pictures and detailed information of the wrecks they have dived on, which makes it possible for us to get primary data from the site without actually visiting it ourselves. Our current project, Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War, has 1100 sites that are included and without the support from the diving community this would be an impossible task for us to tackle.

Recording a wreck on the foreshore

Mr Steve Harvey has kindly lent his drone flying expertise to us during several site visits!

In addition to underwater sites we have also located relevant sites on the foreshore. The Trust has regular excursions to these sites where we together with volunteers record the features and current conditions of the wrecks. We have had volunteers bring their own drone equipment which allowed us to get aerial footage of the site as well as teaching other volunteers how to fly a drone.

The information we collect as part of the project doesn’t just come from primary archaeological sites. We also have volunteers who travel to various archives to wade through the wealth of information that hasn’t seen the light of day since it was archived. In addition to this we also record artefacts that are relevant to the wrecks of the First World War. The volunteers create a detailed photographic and written record of each artefact we record.

Volunteers recording artefacts at the Shipwreck Centre and Maritime Museum on the Isle of Wight

All of this information will then have to be put into a database where it is accessible to everyone. This is no small task with thousands of sites, documents and photographs to upload. Needless to say that without the help of volunteers working on making it all available, the majority of this information would be sat gathering dust on our servers.

Watercolour paintings by Mike Greaves

The work doesn’t end here however! Now the task is to let people know what we are up to and how they can access this information. As an organisation, the Trust regularly attends events locally and further afield. Our outreach team is often supported by volunteers who join them on the day to talk to the public. The displays we bring with us include artefacts for people to handle and electronic mini-airlifts and mini-ROVs for children to play with. The latter also requires regular maintenance which is also done by volunteers. During the events we attend we also bring with us free publications for people to read and take home. One of the most popular freebies we have available are the postcards with the beautiful watercolour artwork painted by one of our volunteers.

As illustrated in this post, the Maritime Archaeology Trust would simply not function in the same way without the brilliant work volunteers put in for us. In light of the National Volunteer Week 2017, the Maritime Archaeology Trust would like to highlight the work of our volunteers and thank you for your previous, current and future hard work! During the volunteering week we will be posting some of our volunteers’ stories of how they came to work with us, what they do and how it has benefitted them as well as us.

Fancy gaining some new skills and learning new things about our maritime past? You don’t have to be a qualified diver to volunteer and no previous maritime archaeological experience is required! Get in touch: volunteering@maritimearchaeologytrust.org

For more information about the volunteering opportunities available, please see this online booklet: http://forgottenwrecks.maritimearchaeologytrust.org/volunteering-matters

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

hmhs-asturias-300dpi

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!

Forgotten Wrecks of the Devon Coast: Geophysics and Diving

WholeAreaMap

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.

BentonCastle_geophysics

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.

Newholme_site_photo

Diver photographs detail of the wreck structure of the Newholm.

Benton_Castle_site_photo

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

 

Discovery Bus: Dartmouth area schools

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Are you involved with a school in Dartmouth or the surrounding area? Would you like the Discovery Bus to visit your school?

We are going to be in the area the week beginning 27th June 2016 and are looking for a number of schools who may be interested in a free session on maritime archaeology and the Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War. Sessions available for all age ranges, single classes, or whole year groups. During the session, students will be introduced to maritime archaeology, get to handle real archaeological artefacts from First World War shipwrecks, try on dive kit, and explore what it’s like to be a maritime archaeologist.

For more information or to book a session, please email Jasmine at jns@maritimearchaeologytrust.org or ring us on 02380 237300.