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Archaeologists Seek Hidden Depths of Marine Knowledge

30 April 2013

Underwater archaeologists will be travelling down Scotland’s west coast – from Kinclohbervie to Glasgow – to gather local insight into the maritime history of the area.

Through a series of meetings and talks taking place this May, archaeologists will introduce Project SAMPHIRE (Scottish Atlantic Maritime Past: Heritage, Investigation, Research and Education) to communities along the Atlantic coast. They want to hear from local people – or diving enthusiasts – about anything interesting or curious they have spotted beneath the water. The SAMPHIRE team are hoping to find out about everything from previously-unknown shipwrecks, to now-submerged traces of human habitation that could go back thousands of years.

The research is being carried out by WA Coastal & Marine and RCAHMS, with support from The Crown Estate’s Marine Stewardship Fund. The SAMPHIRE team will be visiting the following destinations – adding events to this schedule as they go – and are interested in hearing from anyone who has knowledge to share:

May 8 – Kinclochbervie
May 9 – Drumbeg and Lochinver
May 10 – Ullapool
May 11 – Gairloch and Torridon
May 12 – Applecross and Skye
May 13 – Skye
May 14 – Mallaig and Oban

SAMPHIRE Senior Project Officer John McCarthy, from WA Coastal & Marine said, “Local knowledge is key to improving our understanding of the history of Scotland’s coastlines. It is often those who live beside the sea, or who spend much of their lives on the water, who are most likely to make discoveries of significant historic interest. We are looking for local people to work with us to identify and investigate Scotland’s underwater cultural heritage. We may be trained archaeologists, but the locals are the true experts when it comes to familiarity with their underwater landscapes.  

We also want to keep the communities involved throughout the project, reporting our discoveries to them and exploring how they can take part in the conservation and stewardship of these historic marine sites in the future.”

Fiona Wynne, Stewardship Manager at The Crown Estate, said “We are very pleased to support this project which aims to discover more about the historical riches of Scotland’s coastline. It will help to create a national resource that underpins the importance to Scotland of the sea and the communities that live alongside it.”

All discoveries made by the project will become part of RCAHMS marine historic environment record. RCAHMS already holds information on over 1,500 wrecks and 18,000 losses that date from the seventeenth century to the present day, as well as an extensive collection of photographs, drawings and reports.

The SAMPHIRE team will be recording their trip in a series of video and text blog posts.