Women in Science: 10 minutes with a Maritime Archaeologist

To mark the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11th Feb 2017, we spoke to Alison James, Maritime Archaeologist at Historic England, about what inspires her in her work. Can you give us a brief introduction to what you do? I’m a Maritime Archaeologist at Historic England so I deal with the 52 protected wreck sites around the coast of England. They range from Bronze Age sites right through to 21st century submarines, from Northumberland down to the IslesRead more

Britain on the Brink of Starvation: Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

One hundred years ago today on 1 February 1917, Germany resumed its policy of ‘unrestricted submarine warfare.’  The seas around the British Isles were declared a war zone in which fishing vessels and unarmed merchant vessels, carrying essential items such as foodstuffs, coal and iron ore, would be attacked without warning by German U-boats. Featured image: UB106 on rocks Falmouth 1921 © Historic England/ Patrick Casement [see footnote 1] Prior to this a U-boat would surface, search a vessel, give theRead more

Devon’s Shipwrecks

Shipwrecks don’t just happen in the deep sea: many ships are driven ashore or lie slowly decaying along riverbanks, estuaries, and creeks. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has given protection to three such ‘shoreline’ wrecks on Historic England’s recommendation. For all three, one of the major factors in assessing their national significance for protection was their rarity. Generally speaking, the further back we go in time, the rarer the evidence is for shipwrecks around England’s coasts. So justRead more

Jutland’s Surviving Warships

During the First World War, the British Navy dominated the sea, intercepting and detaining thousands of merchant ships carrying vital supplies bound for Germany and their allies. This month marks one hundred years since the British Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy’s High Seas Fleet met in the North Sea area west of Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula. What ensued was the largest naval battle of the First World War with over 100,000 sailors involved on 250 ships. MoreRead more

5 Iconic Sites Added to this Year’s Heritage at Risk Register

1. Eastbourne Pier, Sussex One of the most important piers of its kind in the country, Eastbourne Pier was added to the Heritage at Risk Register this summer after a devastating fire engulfed about a third of the structure and destroyed the landward arcade building. English Heritage is giving expert advice on the rebuild and is pleased the eastern walkway has now reopened helping local businesses at the end of the pier. 2. Shipwreck Hazardous, West Sussex coast An important protected wreck site added to theRead more

6 Stunning Lighthouses (From 1AD to the Present Day)

Trinity House, the lighthouse authority for England and Wales, celebrates its 500th anniversary today after being granted a charter by Henry VIII on 20 May, 1514. To commemorate this day, let me take you on a quick tour of England’s rich lighthouse heritage. The earliest recorded lighthouse in England, still standing, although disused for centuries, is the Roman pharos at Dover, hinting by its presence at possible Roman wrecks off the Kent coast. Medieval structures bear witness to the shipwrecks which causedRead more

Ultrasonic Thickness Testing: devising new ways to manage marine heritage

English Heritage has over a decade of experience in the management of shipwreck sites. This experience is largely based on managing change to the remains of sunken wooden warships – we’ve recently published guidance on the management of pre-1950 ships and boats:  Ships & Boats: Prehistory to 1840 (published spring 2012) and Ships & Boats: 1840 to 1950 (published January 2013). However, in order to begin to understand the management requirements of metal-hulled vessels, an initial programme of research, ultrasonic investigationRead more