Submerged Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology

Description

This project follows on from an earlier AHRB Innovations Award to Penny Spikins in 2002 on the modelling of submerged sites in the North Sea Basin and is focussed on the investigation of two underwater sites in Britain, Bouldnor Cliff in the Solent, which has produced clear evidence of Mesolithic materials including hearths, artefacts and worked timber, and Browns Bay on the Northumberland coast, where the status of the site remains to be explored.

These sites are unique in Britain and provide potential insight into the use of coastal environments during the final postglacial rise of sea level and an opportunity to develop methods and expertise in underwater investigations

Details

Project Members

Funding bodies

  • The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Royal Archaeological Institute

Objectives

  • part-time research funding for Garry Momber and Lawrence Moran to devote time to this and the Gibraltar and Red Sea underwater projects, alongside their other commitments
  • investigation of Bouldnor Cliff (Solent) and Brown’s Bay (Northumberland), where evidence is being rapidly destroyed by erosion so that systematic investigation is an urgent issue
  • systematic evaluation, excavation and collection of samples that can help to reconstruct the environmental conditions of the ancient coastal landscape prior to inundation by sea-level rise and the nature of the associated archaeological materials

Methods

The work on the British sites will involve high-resolution geophysical survey and sub-bottom profiling, shallow water diving (to c. 10 m) with surface air supply and Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA), auger transects, recovery of sediments and artefacts, archaeological and palaeoenvironmental recording, analysis of microscopic plant and animal data, and radiocarbon dating.