The Dive onto Victory Project was initiated to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and associated 'Sea Britain 2005' activities. This initial work was contributed to by the Friends of the HWTMA and supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund Local Heritage Initiative. Further investigation and research has helped to develop understanding of the archaeological potential of historic anchorage sites.
Between 2005 and 2007 diving investigation gathered information from a number of sites within Portsmouth Harbour where HMS Victory had been moored after its active service. One site in particular, on the Gosport side of the Harbour, proved to be significant and, after survey, a collection of over 250 artefacts was recovered from the surface of the seabed. This mooring area is well documented on charts and photographs (the earliest being from 1897), and is important as it has not been subject to modern disturbance.
In addition to the archaeological investigations the project also sought to collect oral histories related to working on or with the sea. This information was used to contribute to a range of displays and activities.
The mooring site on the Gosport side of the harbour was surveyed by divers. An area of around 30m by 30m was examined in detail. The team were surprised by the number of artefacts that were present on the seabed. Drawings and photographs were taken prior to the recovery of artefacts.
The collection of 257 artefacts consists of a range of types of artefact. The collection is dominated by ceramics and glass, most of which dates from 1750 onwards. This material is providing an important insight into life onboard naval vessels over the past 200 years in addition to adding to understanding of the form and distribution of archaeological material on anchorage sites.
A selection of the artefacts is on display in Southampton's new SeaCity Museum as part of their "Titanic The Legend" exhibition (closes at the end of August 2013).