Project SAMPHIRE: Crowd Sourcing Maritime Archaeology data off Scotland's West Coast

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    Perhaps the greatest barrier to effective management of underwater cultural heritage is the lack of data on the nature and location of offshore archaeological resources. This is a problem shared with terrestrial archaeology, but is particularly acute due to the limitations of survey techniques in the underwater environment. In Scotland <15% of known ship losses from the last 200 years have been located and the record is far less comprehensive for earlier periods, verging on a near total data gap. Most known archaeological sites in Scottish waters have been discovered through large-scale sonar survey of relatively low resolution and a considerable bias has been introduced in the archaeological record; this has favored the discovery and documentation of larger and more recent, often upstanding, metal shipwrecks. This article presents the methods and results from a three-year project designed to reduce this bias by demonstrating large-scale prospecting for maritime archaeology through a community-based crowd-sourcing approach. Project SAMPHIRE (the Scottish Atlantic Maritime Past: Heritage, Investigation, Research and Education Project) was geographically focused on the west coast of the Scottish mainland and was undertaken between 2013 and 2015, resulting in a large number of new archaeological discoveries, including shipwrecks, aircraft, and other material of a much more varied nature than what is typically found through large-scale hydrographic surveys.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-290
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
    Issue number2
    Early online date2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • archaeological prospection
    • Community Archaeology
    • historic shipwrecks
    • Underwater Archaeology


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