Mesolithic Occupation at Bouldnor Cliff and the Submerged Prehistoric Landscapes of the Solent

The Bouldnor Cliff project has been carried out by a multi-disciplinary team led by Garry Momber of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology. The team has been drawn from local archaeologists, universities around the UK and independent specialists; many have dived on the site itself.

At the start of the Mesolithic period, some 8000 years ago, sea levels in the North Sea and the English Channel were some 30 to 40m lower than those of today – Britain was a peninsula of northern Europe. Over the past few decades work by the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology has slowly been unearthing a buried archaeological landscape in the Western Solent. Each year, as a result of erosion and rescue excavation, the site at Bouldnor Cliff, 11m below water off the north coast of the Isle of Wight, produces new finds including worked wood, hearths, flint tools, food remains, twisted plant fibres and an enigmatic assemblage of timbers dating to 8100 BP.

The material demonstrates technological abilities some 2000 years ahead of those seen on sites in mainland Britain.

This report records the events that led to the discovery of this internationally important site, the methods used to recover the material, and the detailed assessment of the archaeological artefacts. It also explores the processes that have preserved and exposed the landscape and the potential of the wider submerged palaeo-environmental resource to aid our understanding of this period.

It is clear from this and other recent projects that it is in our coastal waters that we should be looking for information on the story of human dispersal and adaptation to sea-level change in north-west Europe at the end of the last Ice Age.

To purchase a copy of the Bouldnor Cliff monograph please visit Oxbow Books (external link).


The Archaeology and History of the Flower of Ugie Wrecked 1852 in The Easten Solent - HWTMA Monograph series

We were pleased to launch the HWTMA monograph series in the winter of 2011 withThe Archaeology and History of the Flower of Ugie, wrecked 1852 in the Eastern SolentFlower of Ugie, a wooden sailing vessel built in Sunderland in 1838 and wrecked in the Eastern Solent, England in 1852. The vessel was discovered in 2003 when a fisherman snagged his nets on the wreck, following initial investigation by the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA), archaeological survey was conducted on the site between 2004 and 2011. The aim of this work was to complete the archaeological survey of the site and to establish the identification of the vessel through detailed research into its material characteristics. Monitoring of the stability and sediment levels across the site has also taken place.

Archaeological work on the site allowed the previously unidentified wreck to be confirmed as the remains of the sailing barque, Flower of Ugie and to provide a focus for historical research. This revealed a long-distance sailing merchantman that was engaged in trade with India, China and the far-east from 1838-1846, before shifting to European and North American routes until the vessel’s sinking in 1852. The monograph considers the implications of these trading patterns as well as placing the vessel in its wider technological and economic context.

The final chapters describe and discuss the approaches that have been taken to monitor the state of the seabed remains since 2009 and the level of sediment across the site. These results, along with the potential threats to the site are outlined. The archaeological significance of the remains of the Flower of Ugie are also investigated before the ways in which the findings of the project have been disseminated through the creation of a teaching pack.

To purchase a copy of the monograph please visit British Archaeology Reports (external link).


The Maritime Archaeology of Alum Bay – MAT Monograph Series No. 2

Volume 2 was completed in late 2014 and is concerned with publishing the findings of over twenty years of work in the area of Alum Bay, on the north-west coast of the Isle of Wight. Work commenced in 1991 following the discovery of a substantial piece of ship structure. The identity of the vessel was initially unknown but it was strongly linked to the loss of the 38-gun frigate HMS Pomone on the nearby Needles in 1811, an identification formally confirmed by the research detailed in this monograph. In 2001, a second shipwreck, named Alum Bay 2, was discovered a short distance away and has been interpreted as a relatively small vessel that was likely to have been involved in local transport or coastal trade in the very late 18th century and early decades of the 19th century.

The role of public engagement in the management of such archaeological sites was developed during the mid-2000s when a dive trail was established around the two Alum Bay shipwrecks. The dive trail in Alum Bay provides an interesting case study in this form of archaeological interaction with the diving public. In concert with such outreach work, further archaeological survey was been undertaken across Alum Bay in the light of a number of isolated finds being reported by sports divers including parts of cannon carriages and hull elements. Investigative work in Alum Bay has also encompassed the broken remains of the Victorian Pier that was constructed in 1887 to serve the growing boom in seaside tourism.

The two shipwrecks of Alum Bay 1 and 2 provide a snapshot of two different aspects of English shipbuilding, naval and merchant, in the very late 18th and early 19th century. The archaeological work conducted in their investigation forms the core of this monograph, with further chapters that discuss the wider searches of Alum Bay and also the installation and use of the public Alum Bay Dive Trail. Such an account represents the results of twenty years of archaeological investigation within Alum Bay by the Maritime Archaeology Trust (which now incorporates the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology).

To purchase a copy of the monograph please visit British Archaeology Reports (external link).

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