Project SAMPHIRE (or Scottish Atlantic Maritime Past: Heritage, Investigation, Research & Education) was a collaboration between leading UK heritage practice Wessex Archaeology and Flinders University in South Australia.
Utilising a unique crowd-sourcing method and funding from The Crown Estate, the SAMPHIRE team set out to map more than 150 years of lost vessels including cargo ships, an iron naval yacht – and even a paddle steamer lost in 1867 with great loss of life.
They spent three years visiting coastal communities in Scotland, gathering tips and advice on where to look from local harbour masters, scallop divers, fishermen and other local experts.
The most promising sites were then visited by field survey teams of professional maritime archaeological divers and locals.
The award, one of 31 given only to the finest maritime archaeology projects across Europe, was in the category of Education, Training and Awareness-raising.
The project, was designed and run by maritime archaeologists John McCarthy (Wessex Archaeology Project Manager and Flinders University doctoral student) and Dr Jonathan Benjamin (Flinders University lecturer).
The SAMPHIRE team will be presented with their award by EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and Maestro Placido Domingo at an event in Turku, Finland on 15 May.
Dr Jonathan Benjamin, Lecturer in Maritime Archaeology at Flinders, says: “It is a great opportunity to work in parallel with local communities and also to have the chance to undertake a series of underwater archaeological investigations by our scientific dive team.
“This project incorporated the best of both worlds, blending community engagement with underwater research by trained specialists and with a shared goal to enhance our knowledge of Scotland’s maritime archaeology.”
Chris Brayne, the Chief Executive of Wessex Archaeology, says: “We are delighted to have been announced as a winner of this prestigious European prize which celebrates best practice in heritage conservation, research, management, education and communication.
“This was an innovative, collaborative, project which directly involved hundreds of members of the local community along the coast of West Scotland.”
Full details of the project, including the annual reports describing all the discoveries can be seen at http://blogs.wessexarch.co.uk/samphire/downloads/
Wreck sites reported by community members and recorded by the project include:
- The Lady Middleton (a schooner lost in 1868)
- The Yemassee (an American cargo ship lost in 1859)
- The SS Viscount (lost in 1924)
- The Hersilla (an armed iron naval yacht lost in 1916)
- The Sheila (an early MacBrayne ferry built in 1904 and sunk in 1927)
- The Mafeking (a salvage vessel lost in attempts to recover the Sheila)
- The schooner Medora (lost in 1860)
- The Iris (a brig lost in 1874)
- The SS George A. West (a wooden steam trawler lost in 1927)
- The Thalia (a steam yacht lost in 1942)
- The Cathcartpark (a steamship lost in 1912 near the island of Iona)
- The Lord Bangor (a wooden ship lost in 1894)
- The Carrigart (a steam drifter lost in 1933)
- The Falcon, a previously unlocated paddle steamer built in 1860 and lost in 1867 with great loss of life.
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