This is a guide to the techniques and tools used in underwater and foreshore archaeology. Primarily aimed at the location, mapping and recording of shipwrecks, the advice is also relevant for aircraft sites, submerged landscapes and other survey tasks underwater.
Click on a link below to find out about a topic, links on these pages connect to more information or related subjects. Links also point you towards example case studies where these methods have been used on archaeological projects or research into the effectiveness of the survey or recording method.
The range of skills and techniques covered by this guide is very broad, from the most simple tape measure surveys to 3D mapping using expensive sonar equipment. But if you are just getting started then its important to keep it simple, use the basic methods leaving the difficult methods and expensive gadgets until later. The most useful work is often done with just a tape measure, a drawing board and a pencil.
Click on the links below to find out more about underwater and foreshore archaeology survey and recording techniques or use the Search tool at the top of the page. The more complex subjects are marked - [Advanced].
- About this Guide
- Starting a shipwreck recording project
- Survey and recording types - Assessment / Recording / Monitoring
- Site types and recommended methods
- Underwater and Foreshore Surveying
- Survey methods
- Installing survey points
- Making survey measurements
- Research - How accurate are tape measure surveys? - [Advanced]
- The accuracy of planning frame drawings - [Advanced]
- The accuracy of offset and tie measurements 1: Short distances - [Advanced]
- Accuracy analysis for the Firebrand survey - [Advanced]
- Experiments in ultrasonic hull thickness measurements - [Advanced]
- A standard recording database schema - [Advanced]
- Surveying the fireship Firebrand (1707) - (3D Trilateration, Offsets and Ties, Planning frames, Searches, Sketching, Metal detectors)
- Surveying the Barrel Wreck - (3D Trilateration, Planning frames, Bathymetry)
- Mapping the armed trawler Elk (1940) - (Photomosaic, Metal wreck)
- Surveying and recording Stella 1 - (3D Trilateration, Planning frames, Bubble level, Vertical profiles)
- Mapping the Laira Bridge Wreck (1940s) - (Offsets, Sketching, Photography, Metal wreck, Foreshore)
- Re-surveying Coronation (1691) - (3D Trilateration, Acoustic positioning)
- Searching and mapping Tresco Channel - (Searching, Radial)
- Survey of the Catharina von Flensburg using acoustic positioning - (3D Trilateration, Acoustic positioning)
- Severn Collier hull photomosaic - (Photomosaic, Foreshore)
- Hull thickness measurements on HM submarine A7 - (Ultrasonic hull thickness)
- Updates to the Guide
- All resources