Lecturer awarded £7,000 grant to further marine research

Paola Palma, lecturer in Marine Archaeology at Bournemouth University has recently been awarded an English Heritage grant worth £7,000 to study shipworms around the UK.

The study will last six months and should map the presence of two types of shipworms, Teredo Navalis and Lyrodus Pedicellatus, in English waters.

Shipworms are most commonly known for causing the rapid degradation of wooden objects as they often tunnel through wood internally causing it to weaken.

Paola Palma said “Teredo Navalis is probably the shipworm best-known to archaeologists”. The study hopes to build on existing knowledge using publicly available knowledge.

BU students will also get involved with the study as part of a training exercise, details to be confirmed at a later date.

Archaeology project nominated for Dorset Archaeological Awards


Bournemouth University’s M.A.D. About the Wreck project has been nominated for the Dorset Archaeological Awards.

The Maritime Archaeological Days (M.A.D.) About the Wreck project, promotes maritime archaeology to a wider audience through the Swash Channel Wreck, a 17th Century wreckage at the bottom of Poole Harbour.

The project gives those who would not normally being involved in the appreciation of marine heritage the chance to get close to being actively involved and learn about the heritage, the artefacts and life in the past and understand more about our history with the sea. A number of innovative and highly creative activities are designed to be accessible to all – where age, skills and geographical distance are not considered as barriers. In fact, part of the outreach approach is the work that the team is doing with Prisons, Care Homes and some minority groups. Amongst other activities, the project include a ‘human fish tank’, hands-on and interactive public participation.

M.A.D. About the Wreck is in collaboration with Poole Museum and was made possible thanks to a £140,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Dorset Archaeological Awards ceremony will be held on Friday 11th October 2013 and the awards will be presented by celebrated archaeologist Prof Sir Barry Cunliffe.

Project leader Paola Palma, Programme Leader MSc Maritime Archaeology at Bournemouth University, said, “‘I am thrilled that MAD About the Wreck is nominated for this prestigious award! Hopefully this will attract even more enthusiasm and community involvement around our heritage. It is a real pleasure to be able to manage this project and work with such a variety of different and amazing people.  I can see my passion for this work reflected in their interest. I believe that, given a chance and the right tools, everybody could become as passionate as me about the past”.

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Major success with Swash Channel Wreck coverage

The rudder from the Swash Channel Wreck was finally recovered from the sea bed after residing in Poole Harbour for four hundred years, provoking a wide range of media coverage.

What the ship was and how it came to be on the seabed in Poole Harbour remains a mystery and the 27 foot rudder that was uncovered yesterday could uncover the mysteries of the Swash Channel Wreck. Some say the ship was part of the Spanish Armada, but on closer inspection, the timber frame, found by a dredger in 1990, dates back to the 1600’s; after the Spanish Armada. The ship is most likely of Dutch or German origin.

Bournemouth University received sixty one pieces of coverage, ranging all across print and broadcast media. The list included:

  • South Today
  • BBC TV South
  • BBC Somerset, Solent, Stoke, Surry, Ulster, Shropshire, Scotland, Nottingham, Newcastle, Merseyside, Manchester, Leicester, Leeds, Kent, Humberside, Gloucestershire, Devon, Cumbria, Cambridgeshire, Bristol, Oxford, Lincolnshire and Jersey
  • BBC Radio 5 Live
  • The Times
  • This is Dorset
  • Daily Express
  • Scottish Daily Express
  • The Independent
  • The Independent Online
  • The Guardian
  • The Daily Echo
  • Bournemouth Daily Echo

Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University and Project Leader of the Swash Channel Wreck Project, Dave Parham, featured in a number of the papers, giving quotes and information with the on-going project.

“The wreck is important because so much of it survives. It is the ship itself that is significant – there are only a few wrecks like this in the world, and it tells is more about the beginnings of large scale international trade”, Parham said to The Independent.

“It would have been a very big vessel for its day and the whole vessel would have been a spectacular work if art. It was making a statement, showing how great and wonderful the owners were. They would have needed a large Dutch conglomerate, similar to the East India Company”, he said in The Times.

“To see it in daylight in all its glory is quite spectacular, it is very large and impressive so you can imagine how spectacular this merchant vessel would have looked. It is an extremely find and has led to one of the largest ship wreck investigations in Britain. We this it was a Dutch trading ship and would have taken high quality European goods such as tweed to the Far East and traded them for things like exotic spices” explained Parham in the Daily Express.

“What would be nice would be to have a historical reference papers saying it was sailing from here to there. You don’t need that; from an archaeological perspective the really interesting thing is the study of the whole…” Dave added in the Bournemouth Daily Echo.

By Dean Eastmond

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

Swash Channel Wreck and BU featured in The Telegraph

Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University and Project Leader of the Swash Channel Wreck Project, Dave Parham, featured in the Telegraph, talking about what the wreck is in build up to the surfacing.

The 130ft ship, bigger than the Mary Rose, will have its 27ft, 2.4 tonne rudder surfaced today and is considered a “highly anticipated event”.

So far there are several clues to what the ship was and why it sank and with over 1000 artefacts recovered, people are starting to piece together the true identity of the Swash Channel Wreck. Some believe that the ship was a Spanish Armada vessel (San Salvador), which was lost in 1588. But on further inspection the vessel’s timber frame was felled in 1628 from forests in the coastal region of the Netherlands-Germany Border.

From this, the ship is most likely a Dutch owned artefact.

“I’m surprised we haven’t found any reference to a sinking.” Parham added.  “There is usually some sort of argument or claim that gives you your starting point. It doesn’t appear to have survived in the popular memory, as others have. We have been working on names, but there is no smoking gun, which is surprising, because it is a big ship and its sinking would have been a big event.”

Dave Parham goes on to explain that the facial carving that appears on the uncovered rudder could “provide a breakthrough” and that the carving is similar to one found on a Swedish ship wreck.

“It is an artistic object, which may give information about its origins”.

The Swash Channel Wreck is a project funded by Bournemouth University, English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Poole Harbour Commissioners.

Dean Eastmond

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

Swash Channel Wreck Rudder raised from seabed after 400 years


An elaborately carved rudder which has sat on the seabed near Poole for more than 400 years has been raised by marine archaeologists from Bournemouth University.

The rudder – which features a man’s face carved into the wood – is part of the Swash Channel Wreck, thought to have been a Dutch trading ship which sank in the early 17th century.

Very little is known about the ship, which was discovered on the bed of the English Channel near Poole Harbour, and a project has been led by marine archaeologists from Bournemouth University to protect, excavate and find out more about the wreck.

Project leader Dave Parham, a senior lecturer in marine archaeology at BU, said: “This is the first time this rudder has been seen above the surface in more than 400 years

“It’s a spectacular object, with a human head carved in one end.

“There are no others of this type that have been found in the UK, and it is unusual for one like this to be recovered in its entirety – it is eight and a half metres long and weighs around three and a half tonnes.”

The Swash Channel Wreck project has been running for the past seven years, and artefacts recovered from the wreck so far include cannons, leather shoes and wooden barrels.

Other parts of the ship – including wooden carvings and a canister of cannon shot – have already been raised.

The rudder is the last major part of the ship due to be raised, and the remaining parts of the wreck have been covered with sand to protect it from seawater.

The rudder will now go to York for two years for conservation before going on display in Poole Museum.

“We’ve only recovered around 4 per cent of the wreck and the rudder is the single largest object that we’ve raised,” said Dave.

“It’s the culmination of seven years of hard work and it was a very moving experience. It’s a pleasant relief that it has all gone well.”

“It is the ship itself that is significant – there are only a few wrecks like this in the world, and it tells us more about the beginnings of the large scale international trade.”

The Swash Channel Wreck project is a partnership between Bournemouth University and the Borough of Poole Museum Service and has been funded by a £141,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Maritime Archaeology comes to Guys Marsh Prison


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.