The Day of Archaeology falls within the fieldwork season for English Heritage’s Contract for Archaeological Services in Relation to the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. Wessex Archaeology’s marine archaeology team deliver the contract.
The principle aim of the contract is to supply information and advice to English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw, and the Environment and Heritage Service Northern Ireland to enable them to advise their respective Secretary of State, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland Ministers, as appropriate, about issues of designation and licensing under the Protection of Wreck Act1973.
This involves fieldwork to monitor, record and investigate designated wrecks, and assess sites that may require designation. The marine archaeology team work with the heritage agencies, licensee teams and other stakeholders.
Unfortunately, this week has ended up being quiet despite fieldwork being scheduled, due to bad weather. This, however, illustrates the nature of marine archaeology, which relies on weather to provide a safe diving environment. The majority of the team therefore were in transit back from their diving locations in Wales.
One member of the team, Kevin Stratford, was already office based. He is currently trialling the new scuba gear. Primarily our dive team works on Surface Supplied Diving Equipment (SSDE) however SCUBA diving is more appropriate in certain situations.
Kevin will also help our Project Manager, Toby Gane, with some of the planning elements. During the fieldwork season the team goes all over the country. This requires a lot of organisation ensuring the boat, equipment and staff are ready to deploy. The careful planning can easily be disrupted by the bad weather, which can lead to last minute changes in programme.
Lastly, Kevin will start on writing up the records of some of the completed fieldwork, for example, pulling together all the observation records made by divers on a wreck survey and reviewing the underwater video. This information will input into an archaeological report about the work undertaken.