Art and archaeology: Arch-Manche project


On behalf of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology

The Arch-Manche Project, led by the Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology based in Southampton, is a four year project part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg IVA 2 Seas programme. The Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA) represent the UK and are joined by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, the University of Ghent in Belgium, and Deltares in the Netherlands.

The project has already carried out fieldwork in all four countries this year. On the south coast of England, archaeologists from the HWTMA have carried out work in the Solent and Langstone Harbour. The harbour has a long history of occupation and use, stretching from the early Stone Age right through to the present day and has changed a great deal over that time.

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The harbour is an eroded inland basin of which the islands at the north end are the last remains of the archaeological deposits that are now threatened by erosion.

These deposits and the fact that there are large areas of submerged landscape make Langstone Harbour an ideal case study for the Arch-Manche project. The archaeological deposits and environmental data are readily available in the intertidal zone and on the coast, both of which can contribute data towards the understanding of coastal climate change within the harbour.

Archaeological sites in the project partner countries have also been investigated over the last few months. In July, archaeologists from the HWTMA joined colleagues in France to carry out investigations of the ‘Petit Taureau’ fish traps at Servel-Lannion in Brittany. In Belgium the Doelpolder Noord section of the Scheldt polders, an area of the estuaries that are rich in well- preserved prehistoric sites has also been investigated. Buried peat and clay horizons which form an almost continual sequence from the Roman period to the present will be able to provide a detailed picture of the drowning and evolution of the landscape and the effects that human occupation has had through time.

As well as highlighting the value of archaeology as an indicator of coastal change, the Arch-Manche project will be introducing art. The study of artistic representations of the coast, including historic paintings, maps and charts will be inter-linked with the study of archaeology, to demonstrate the rate and scale of coastal change over thousands of years in order to predict future changes.

Ultimately it is hoped that the project can be used to advise policies on adapting to coastal change for agencies all around the English Channel.

To mark the launch of the project, the new project website has been made live at http://archmanche.hwtma.org.uk/. This contains information about the project alongside photographs and videos of the fieldwork and will be regularly updated as the project progresses.

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