The Marine Aggregate Archaeological Reporting Protocol, set up by the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) and English Heritage and operated by Wessex Archaeology, has received renewed funding of £60,000 from The Crown Estate and the BMAPA. This will ensure the scheme will continue to help the marine aggregate industry report archaeological finds from the seabed.
A further project to promote awareness of the protocol through site visits and a bi-annual newsletter was recently commissioned by The Crown Estate, English Heritage and the BMAPA.
Under the reporting protocol, employees across the marine aggregate industry are able to help protect the UK’s submerged heritage by reporting finds to Wessex Archaeology which then consults a range of internal and external experts who ensure items are correctly identified and recognised for their historical value. Where the finds are considered to be significant, such as military remains, additional management measures can be introduced by industry operators and agreed with English Heritage to ensure that sensitive sites are able to be protected.
The protocol was developed in 2005 for BMAPA after a guidance note produced in partnership with English Heritage identified a need in identifying and understanding finds of archaeological importance external to the environmental assessment process when operating dredging areas.
The guidance note highlighted that knowledge of an aggregate area’s historical significance could be enhanced by an understanding of any artefacts and archaeological deposits within and beneath the seabed. The archaeological protocol was developed to ensure that any finds of potential archaeological importance discovered during all the UK marine aggregate industry’s operations could be reported to heritage experts so their significance could be assessed.
Over the seven years in which the protocol has been operating, over 880 individual finds have been reported by industry staff, including archaeologically significant items such as Palaeolithic hand axes from off Great Yarmouth and aircraft crash site material. Other recent finds include a Single Sheave Snatch Block formally used to move cargo on and off ships as well as a variety of cannon balls and cutlery issued to the army during World War II.