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Archaeology Matters

England's Coastal Heritage Under Threat

Exciting new partnership project receives initial Heritage Lottery support...

The CBA is delighted that the HLF have confirmed their support for the initial development phase of an exciting new stewardship project for monitoring coastal erosion, led by the Thames Discovery Project Team at MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) and supported by the CBA, the Nautical Archaeological Society and English Heritage. The CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network) project aims to record the fragile, nationally important heritage of England’s coast and the foreshores of its tidal estuaries with the support of local communities.

A wreck on the beach at Dymchurch, Kent © Julian Robus

The CITiZAN project aims to create a national network of volunteers, providing them with the skills and systems to record, monitor and celebrate these highly significant but fragile archaeological sites. Initial funding from the HLF, coupled with matched funding from The Crown Estate, enables the team at MOLA to develop the project and submit a delivery grant application later this year to support a major three-year community programme.

If successful, the project will work in partnership with the CBA and the Nautical Archaeology Society to establish centres in London, York and Portsmouth, with two of the project team covering the east of England coastline based in the CBA office in York.

Dramatic changes in weather patterns, demonstrated all too clearly by recent storms, floods and tidal surges, threaten to destroy irreplaceable archaeological remains. Rising sea levels and constant pounding from high waves and intense winds mean much of England’s history is simply being washed away. The remains of prehistoric forests, Roman forts and villas, medieval ports, and countless abandoned ships are all at risk.

CITiZAN plans to record 1,000s of coastal sites currently at risk of erosion, including:

  • Meols, Merseyside: a prehistoric Roman and medieval trading port on the north coast of the Wirral
  • Chichester Harbour, Hampshire: Iron Age & Roman saltworking sites & the Roman port of Fishbourne
  • Severn Estuary: with archaeological remains on Minehead, Blue Anchor, St Audrie’s & Stolford Bays

Bob Bewley, Director of Operations at HLF, said: “These are wonderful proposals! We were impressed that MOLA and partners have really thought about how best to engage volunteers in recording some of our most vulnerable coastal archaeology. This is another decisive step in ensuring our island’s heritage isn’t washed away. HLF’s initial support with development funding up front will enable this formidable partnership project to move forward with planning the project and we look forward to working closely with MOLA over the coming year.”

For more information images or interviews please contact Nicola Kalimeris on nkalimeris@mola.org.uk or 020 7410 2240

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