Unlocking our underwater heritage

Matthew Clear, The Crown Estate


25 July 2016

The Marine Antiquities Scheme captures the excitement of the moment when a diver, fisherman, boat operator or coastal visitor makes an underwater discovery. As they sit there wondering just what it is they’ve uncovered, they can now turn to an easy to use app and record their find in a matter of minutes.

A support team of archaeological experts will look at the object and add information to an online database for users to view or study where appropriate. Importantly, they’ll also let the finder know a bit more about their discovery and the finder will be able to look for similar items on the database and other finds in the area, which we hope will further motivate people to record their discoveries.

It’s a new era in reporting and a great opportunity for citizen science”

Matt Clear, The Crown Estate

We’ve already seen significant discoveries recorded through our Marine Aggregates and Offshore Renewables Protocols. But the amount of seabed that’s not covered by marine aggregates and offshore renewables activity is vast. And that’s why the Marine Antiquities Scheme is so exciting – now we’re going to find what’s out there.

The project page (first link below) hosts an interactive map that will be updated as finds are added to the Marine Antiquities Scheme database. 

The Marine Antiquities Scheme is the first finds app of its kind. It keeps things simple, enabling people to record the information that’s needed, quickly and easily. It also tells finders about any legal obligations, like reporting finds to the Receiver of Wreck. The app really is child’s play to use. I can say this with confidence because, alongside plenty of professional testers, my nine-year-old lad had a go and got the hand of it straightaway.

This is an exciting time for underwater archaeology”

Phil Harding, Wessex Archaeology

As active manager of the seabed, we’ve funded the Marine Antiquities Scheme through our stewardship programme to secure the future of our marine heritage whilst also supporting its responsible and sustainable development over the long-term. A massive thank you to everyone involved – to Wessex Archaeology, the British Museum, British Sub-Aqua Club, National Maritime Museum, Marine Management Organisation, Historic England, Nautical Archaeology Society, Receiver of Wreck and app developer B60. I know how much you’ve all gone over and above to help make the scheme a success.

It was wonderful to see the Marine Antiquities Scheme launch at the British Museum in July, a place that attracts millions of visitors interested in items from times past. I look forward to new archaeological objects being recorded through the scheme, increasing knowledge for generations to come. It’s a new era in reporting and a great opportunity for citizen science.

Further information

Marine Antiquities Scheme

Offshore Renewables Protocol

Marine Aggregates Protocol

Marine Finds - Marine Antiquities Scheme website

Portable Antiquities Scheme