Maritime Archaeology comes to Guys Marsh Prison

Posted on Thursday, May 23 2013

A maritime archaeology day, designed to make archaeology more accessible, took place at Guys Marsh Prison.

Experts from Bournemouth University visited the prison to share findings from their excavation of the Swash Channel Wreck, a 17th Century ship that lies on the bed of Poole Harbour.

Prison inmates were shown slides of artefacts found and were told about the history of the wreckage. After the presentations, inmates were invited to attend group sessions to talk about maritime archaeology and give their views on the project.

The activity day took place as a part of the MAD About the Wreck project, created by Paola Palma, Lecturer in Marine Archaeology at Bournemouth University, which invites people to join the adventure of maritime archaeology through a series of Maritime Archaeology Days (MAD). The project was also created in collaboration with Poole Museum.

Paola said, “It has always been a passion of mine to make sure that whatever my colleagues and I find underwater becomes enjoyable to all. I would like archaeology to be inclusive of all, with no limits to gender, age, skills, geographical location etc. I love to create a partnership with those who are learning and those who wish to learn or just listen to something new. The participation of prisons, care homes and groups of minorities in this is fundamental, challenging and mutually rewarding.”

One prisoner, Richard, said, “I found it very informative and I was looking forward to [the day] because I am very interested in the topic. I’d love to encourage other people to come along and enjoy what we have enjoyed today.”

Another of the prisoners, Chris, wrote a piece of Baroque–style music and played it to the audience as a tribute to the music of the time. Chris said of the day, “Today was fantastic, it was heart–warming to see people passionate about a subject talk about it.”

The prisoners taking part in the day were part of the RECOOP group at Guys Marsh. RECOOP are a charity that look after resettlement and care of older prisoners and works with prisoners for rehabilitation.

Bournemouth University is collaborating with Borough of Poole’s Museum Service for the project, using Poole’s Swash Channel Wreck as the source of inspiration.

There are a number of Maritime Archaeology Days planned and you can find more information on the MAD About the Wreck Facebook page.