Marine Antiquities Scheme

Working in partnership, we’ve developed a new scheme for recording archaeological discoveries offshore, helping to protect our nation’s underwater heritage and supporting marine industries and leisure users.

Mammoth tusk

Every year, interesting objects and sites are discovered by divers, fishermen, boat operators and coastal visitors. The Marine Antiquities Scheme (MAS) provides a way to record these finds and, at the same time, help protect and improve the knowledge of our shared underwater cultural heritage.

To record an archaeological or historical discovery, people can use the MAS online recording form or download the app to any iOS or Android mobile device. The app is easy to use, enabling finds to be recorded in a matter of minutes. A support team of archaeological experts will then research and identify each find and, where appropriate, publish information about it to the online database for users to view or study.

Full screen version with interactive finds map

The scheme mirrors the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme for onshore finds, which has proved hugely successful. It also builds on our Marine Aggregates and Offshore Renewables Protocols, through which many significant archaeological finds have been recorded.

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 long-term.”

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”

Chris Bayne, CEO, Wessex Archaeology

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."

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.” 

The Marine Antiquities Scheme is funded by The Crown Estate and managed by Wessex Archaeology. It was developed with the assistance of the British Museum, British Sub-Aqua Club, National Maritime Museum, Marine Management Organisation, Historic England (formerly English Heritage), Nautical Archaeology Society and Receiver of Wreck. The app was created by B60, app developer of the year, 2015 Appsters Awards.

Further information

Offshore Renewables Protocol

Marine Aggregates Protocol

Marine Antiquities Scheme website

Portable Antiquities Scheme

MAS Brochure (PDF, 0.4 MB)

Mas Poster A4 (PDF, 2.24 MB)

MAS Fair Processing Notice (PDF, 0.1 MB)