Archaeology at risk

By a County Press reporter

Monday, January 13, 2014

 

Archaeology at risk

The Maritime Archaeology Trust has warned that marine archaeology in the Solent could be at risk.

FRAGILE maritime archaeology in the Solent could be destroyed by the battering storms, experts have warned.

The Maritime Archaeology Trust is concerned that damage to Isle of Wight heritage, including Bouldnor Cliff, near Yarmouth, could be irreparable.

Excavating the Solent’s many secrets is a race against time as the charity struggles against the weather and a lack of government funding.

Gary Momber, director of the trust, said: "Although a handful of shipwrecks are protected by law against damage by humans, we sadly can’t control the weather.

"With these types of submerged landscapes, erosion can be close to a metre a year and the recent storms will only exacerbate this situation.

"Land underwater is unique in that it can actually preserve delicate man-made materials — that is until it is exposed to harsh seas.

"This is a land that fell foul of climate change 8,000 years ago and can give an insight into those changes.

"I would like to see us learn from events in the past rather than just sit by and watch these unique sites get washed away.

"I’m very concerned that recent weather could be destroying sites of archaeological significance or washing away precious artefacts. Because of this, we archaeologists need to work harder and faster than ever."

Bouldnor Cliff revealed a unique 8,000 year old, Middle Stone Age landscape — now drowned by the Solent — that holds clues to the lives of our prehistoric ancestors.

The trust has been monitoring the site for more than ten years and has discovered evidence showing it was an area that saw some of the earliest settlers in Britain, enjoying cooking, hunting and boat building.

The trust is now launching a fundraising campaign, engaging with schools, colleges and sponsors, to support archaeology dive teams during 2014.

For more information visit www.maritimearchaeologytrust.org

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