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Launch of the Marine Antiquities Scheme

After months of hard work, the Marine Antiquities Scheme (MAS) has been officially launched amongst the grandeur of the British Museum. The MAS encourages the voluntary recording of archaeological objects and sites found by marine users in England and Wales. Divers, fishermen, and other marine users who make a find can report their discovery through an app or an online record form. The find is then researched by Wessex Archaeology who sends the historical information back to the finder and also makes sure that relevant organisations, such as the Receiver of Wreck and national heritage bodies, are informed where necessary.

On Thursday 21st July, a whole range of marine users gathered at the Stevenson Lecture Theatre, at the British Museum to attend the launch of MAS. There were representatives from recreational dive clubs, museums, government, heritage organisations, fishing groups and archaeological associations, all keen to show their support for this scheme. The event was hosted by The Crown Estate who commissioned this initiative, and Wessex Archaeology brought along some examples of what marine users might find and report in the future. MAS is based on the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and both schemes will work together to help increase our knowledge of the UK’s rich and varied heritage.

British Museum Director, Hartwig Fischer, welcomed all the attendees to the event, while Phil Harding gave an inspirational talk about his past underwater discoveries. The afternoon’s official proceedings were concluded with a live demonstration of the MAS app by Matt Clear of The Crown Estate. For the rest of the afternoon there were excited discussions, over tea and cake, about the possibilities of this new scheme!

By Peta Knott, Archaeologist, Coastal & Marine

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