A big thank you to our volunteers

Stephanie Ostrich, Project Officer at CITiZAN

20 October 2015

World War II bunker on coast

Since launching our call for volunteers in August 2015, together with partners including The Crown Estate, we have been overwhelmed by the response we’ve received from people poised and ready to survey their local archaeological sites, come rain or shine.

Armed with tape measures, buckets and mobile phones, our newly trained volunteers are creating standardised records of our fragile coastal heritage sites before they disappear forever.

CITiZAN (the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network) is one of England’s largest ever community archaeology projects. I am lucky enough to be one of eight CITiZAN archaeologists training a national network of volunteers to use a standardised survey and monitoring methodology.

This is an incredible opportunity to work with communities across England to discover, monitor and celebrate their local heritage. The ever-present threat to our coastal heritage from erosion can’t be halted but we can learn a lot before these sites are completely eroded by winds, waves and tidal scour.

This is an incredible opportunity to work with communities across England to discover, monitor and celebrate their local heritage.”

Stephanie Ostrich, Project Officer at CITiZAN

We bring our new recruits up to speed in the classroom first, before getting out into the field, or rather onto the beaches! Here they get training and hands-on experience across a range of sites, from shipwrecks and submerged forests, to Roman remains and World War defences.

Some 250 volunteers have already become fully fledged CITiZAN surveyors, and are now starting to record and monitor their local coastal and estuarine archaeology on an ongoing basis, uploading their findings to our growing database via our app and interactive map. We are also working with local archaeology groups to build on their good work and integrate it with the recording of coastal sites across England.

As well as offering training, we double check all records entered on the CITiZAN database and run a programme of outreach events to celebrate and promote better understanding of our coastal heritage, including guided walks, workshops and lectures.

CITiZAN volunteers at Birling Gap, East Sussex.

Volunteers training to survey wrecked ships at Birling Gap in East Sussex.

Our crowd-sourced database, generated by local community members, is preserving knowledge of important archaeological sites and paving the way for new research to understand our fragile coastal heritage. It is also being archived with the Archaeology Data Service as a research resource for future generations.

With over 6,500 miles of coastline and tidal foreshore to monitor – to say that we couldn’t do this without our volunteers would be something of an understatement!

No previous archaeological experience is needed. Our volunteers learn some new skills for free and get to see wonderful and often little-known landscapes, and connect with their local heritage – all the while contributing to local and national knowledge.

If you are interested in becoming a CITiZAN surveyor or simply want to find out more, sign up using the link to the CITiZAN website below.

Stephanie is CITiZAN Project Officer based in London. She has an MA in Archaeology from UCL, a BS in Anthropology and a BA in History from University of California, Riverside. She has been active in UK archaeology for seven years and has over eight years of archaeological archiving experience in the UK and abroad, focusing on digital data management and database design. She is also editor of the annual round-up Post-Medieval Fieldwork in Britain and Ireland. Stephanie is passionate about public and community archaeology, having been involved in such projects as the Walbrook Discovery Blog and the London Temple of Mithras oral history project and hopes to share that enthusiasm with a new generation of archaeological citizen scientists.

CITiZAN is the first co-ordinated response to the threat facing our coastal heritage. Run by charity MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology), the project was made possible by £1.4 million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, match-funding from The Crown Estate and National Trust, and further support from Historic England. Other partners include the Council for British Archaeology in York and the Nautical Archaeology Society in Portsmouth.

Further information

CITiZAN project

CITiZAN website