Seabed Prehistory

Wessex Archaeology, 2009

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Wessex Archaeology (2009) Seabed Prehistory [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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Seabed Prehistory

The project Seabed Prehistory: Gauging the Effects of Marine Aggregate Dredging was undertaken by Wessex Archaeology. It was funded by Round 1 and Round 2 of the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) distributed by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The funding of the project was administered on behalf of Defra by English Heritage (EH) and the Mineral Industries Research Organisation (MIRO); each funding different phases of the project.

The Seabed Prehistory project ultimately comprises three ALSF projects (3876 Seabed Prehistory R2 / 4600 Happisburgh/Pakefield exposures / 5401 Seabed Grab Sampling) and has produced a series of eight reports.

The project aimed to address strategic gaps identified in the course of preparing Environmental Statements (ES) for marine aggregate extraction licence applications in addition to developing methodologies for assessing the presence or absence of prehistoric archaeology within marine aggregate dredging areas and to provide guidance to industry. This was accomplished by applying industry-standard geophysical and geotechnical tools for archaeological assessment and evaluation in offshore areas. Survey methods included bathymetry, sidescan sonar, shallow seismic survey, vibrocore surveys, and grab sampling surveys.

Through the combined use of these high resolution geophysical and geotechnical surveys the project identified and dated deposits and remnant landscapes from pre-Anglian to post-Devensian times, increasing our knowledge of the survival of archaeologically-important deposits in the marine environment. Palaeoenvironmental data from these sites has allowed the reconstruction of the changing prehistoric landscapes, to provide a better understanding of when and if these sites would have been exploited by humans in the past.
The project focused on the small scale and high resolution analysis of five different study areas in the North Sea (Humber, Great Yarmouth, Happisburgh and Pakefield) and the English Channel (Arun, Eastern English Channel). All study areas are located close to or within licensed marine aggregate dredging areas, apart from the Happisburgh and Pakefield study area which is related to terrestrial aggregate deposits.