Until I began this job I wasn’t really aware that intertidal archaeology was a ‘thing’. The closest I had come to it was on a student field school in Orkney, where twice a day, with high tide, half the site was underwater and we had to retreat up the beach. But even then I did not consider what I was doing was ‘intertidal’. I was of course aware that archaeology had a wide number of sub-disciplines: osteology, finds specialisms, historic building recording, but it had never really dawned on me that intertidal archaeologists were also specialists in their field. Ever since starting my career in archaeology, the specialism I have always been heading towards is a career in outreach and community archaeology; but after 18 month with CITiZAN (the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network), I would also say my specialisms includes intertidal archaeology.
As the CITiZAN Archaeologist for Outreach in the North, I am working toward creating a new generation of intertidal archaeologists – inspiring amateurs and professionals alike, from young people with no experience to people who have been doing archaeology all there lives. So what type of sites do intertidal archaeologists look at? In the North we have worked on Mesolithic footprints in Formby, submerged forests near Cleethorpes, stone piers in South Landing, rock-cut bathing pools in Howick, salt pans in Maryport and abandoned timber-hulled vessels on the Humber and there is so much more to be found on our coasts.
In the last 18 months I have learnt so much: What is a fish trap? What are the differences between WW1 and WW2 pillboxes? How did coastal saltpans and lime kilns work? I can answer all these questions and more, working with other experts in this field. Nevertheless, I always go back to my first specialism, community archaeology and by combining both of my specialisms I am helping to train, teach and inspire people to record our fragile heritage, which is on the brink of destruction.
As part of CITiZAN we are helping to bring intertidal archaeology to the forefront of public consciousness, and, along with several other organisations, we are making sure that this archaeology is not forgotten or overlooked. Through CITiZAN we are training volunteers with a passion for heritage and their coastline and providing them with the skills and toolkits needed to identify, record and monitor our coastline before climate change, rising sea levels and erosion washes it away for good. Intertidal archaeology is a specialism, but through CITiZAN we are helping inspire a new generation of intertidal archaeologist and the public alike; after all heritage is for everyone and everyone can be an intertidal archaeologist.