England (United Kingdom)

England (United Kingdom)

CITiZAN: shipwrecks and smartphones, the rapid recording of vessels in the intertidal zone

Andy Sherman (CITiZAN: the Coastal and InterTidal Zone Archaeological Network)

Since 2015, CITiZAN (the Coastal and InterTidal Zone Archaeological Network) has worked on the foreshore around England to identify and record archaeological remains at risk of destruction from coastal erosion and climate change.  To cover the 6,500 miles of English coastline CITiZAN trained over 2,000 volunteers to survey everything from prehistoric footprints to Cold War defences.  This led to over 3,000 new features being identified and more than 16 gigabytes of digital photographs being taken from the Isles of Scilly, off Cornwall to the Scottish border in Cumbria and Northumberland. 

Among this cacophony of archaeology were almost 100 newly identified shipwrecks and hulks, archaeologically recorded for the first time by the project.  These vessels include substantially intact wrecks besanded on the foreshore, as well as individual components of vessels broken off from deep water wrecks and washed onto the beach.  Our volunteers also created 100’s of condition surveys for many of the more than 20,000 previously identified maritime features in the project’s original dataset.

CITiZAN’s primary recording tool is a smartphone app, that enables volunteers to rapidly and accurately record the archaeology that they have identified, without having to buy specialist tools or take large amounts of equipment on to the foreshore.  Once newly created records have been moderated by the project’s staff, they are live on CITiZAN’s interactive map for causal users and researchers a like to interrogate.

Andy’s paper will look at how CITiZAN’s volunteers have contributed to the discovery, investigation and management of shipwrecks around the English coast in the last seven years.

Top image: Recording a 17th century wreck on the Cumbrian coast with CITiZAN’s mobile phone app (Photo: CITiZAN)

Training volunteers in maritime archaeology in Kingston-upon-Hull (Photo: CiTiZAN)

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