A scheme to help protect the nation’s marine heritage by encouraging the recording of archaeological and historical objects found by marine users in English and Welsh waters will be launched at the British Museum in London today.
Called the Marine Antiquities Scheme (MAS), it is a joint
initiative funded by The Crown Estate, modelled on The British
Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme for onshore finds and managed
by Wessex Archaeology.
The scheme evolved from the realisation that each year divers,
fishermen, recreational boat users and other coastal visitors
discover many interesting objects and sites while at sea but until
now had no way to centrally record them for the wider public
As part of the scheme, a support team comprised of
archaeological experts will research each of the finds submitted to
find out more about its origins and history. The information will
be published on a public database that is available for all to
The database provides opportunities for wider research and
awareness as it is openly accessible to anyone interested in
learning more about the history hidden under the waves.
Central to the Marine Antiquities Scheme is a simple-to-use app
that makes recording finds an easy process and gives finders
immediate feedback as well as instructions on their statutory
obligations, including the need to report any wreck to Receiver of
The app is now available to download from relevant app stores
for iOS and Android phones and tablets.
The Crown Estate's Matt Clear said: "The Marine Antiquities
Scheme provides a way to record all types of underwater finds and
at the same time it will help to both protect and improve the
knowledge of our shared underwater cultural heritage.
"The scheme mirrors the highly successful onshore recording
initiative, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which has proved
hugely successful with more than one million objects recorded since
its inception in 1997.
"Given its location, people often don't realise how much
activity happens on the seabed, from renewable energy through to
cables, pipelines and aggregate extraction. As active managers of
this natural resource, we have funded MAS through our stewardship
programme to secure the future of our marine heritage whilst also
supporting its responsible and sustainable development over the
The MAS app allows users to locate, record and submit
information about archaeological material discovered anywhere
within English or Welsh waters from the Mean Low Water Level.
They can also do it on-line via an electronic recording form
located on the scheme's website www.marinefinds.org.uk.
Chris Bayne, Chief Executive Officer of Wessex Archaeology said:
"The Marine Antiquities Scheme provides a means for people to take
a truly active part in front line research into our past and allows
them to make real contributions towards the understanding and the
preservation of our marine heritage.
"Users will benefit from the very best expert knowledge
available and will have free, open access to the most up to date
information. It will be fascinating to see what people do with this
capability in the future."
Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the
British Museum said: "The Portable Antiquities Scheme has been a
tremendous success, ensuring that many thousands of archaeological
finds discovered by the public are recorded and add to our
knowledge of Britain's past.
"We hope that the Marine Antiquities Scheme can emulate this
success, preserving the record of marine heritage for the future.