Virtual Dive Trails
We want everyone to be able to enjoy protected wreck sites and to that end have been developing improved access to the sites. We've commissioned a series of virtual dive trails of some fascinating wrecks that you can tour without getting wet.
On this page:
Virtual dive trails
These trails use new technologies such as multi-image photogrammetric recording and virtual reality techniques. The new techniques allow viewers to see a clear 3D image of a site. Not only do they bring maritime archaeology to life for the non-diver, they're a lot easier to interpret than more traditional geophysical survey techniques or photographs taken in poor visibility. They can even aid archaeologists' work on land by allowing measurements to be taken and analysis to be carried out post-dive.
The Stirling Castle was a 70-gun warship built in 1678 at Deptford. The ship fell victim to the Great Storm of 1703. Only 70 of her crew of 349 were saved, including her Third Lieutenant, chaplain, cook, surgeon's mate and four marine captains.
The Chesil Beach Cannon Site consists of two discrete clusters of ships’ guns located in a highly dynamic area close to Chesil Beach off the coast of Dorset. The exact identities of the wrecks are unknown.
Explore this fascinating site in this virtual dive trail created from 3D photogrammetry.
Explore the wreck of the Rooswijk, a ship of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), lost on the Goodwin Sands in 1740. This trail features archival evidence, geophysical surveys, underwater photos and footage and cutting edge computer generated imagery. The tour takes viewers through the archaeological process from discovery to post-excavation.
Located in shallow water off the Isle of Wight, the Thorness Bay wreck site is extremely unusual as it offers an almost complete assemblage of a mid to late 19th century merchant sailing ship. Explore this fascinating site in this virtual dive trail created from archival evidence, geophysical surveys, underwater photography and video footage.
Tour the Thorness Bay wreck
The Arfon is an exceptionally well-preserved armed trawler dating from the First World War. Explore the surviving features of the wreck, including its 6-pounder gun, and find out how the wreck has become a home for marine life.
Tour the Arfon wreck
HMS / mA1
The A1 was the first British-designed and built submarine used by the Royal Navy. She was lost off Selsey Bill during unmanned trials in 1911 and now forms a fascinating virtual trail.
Tour the A1 wreck
The Colossus was a 74-gun warship wrecked in 1798 in the Isles of Scilly. The virtual trail mirrors the trail that divers can explore on the seabed and lets you explore the wreck using 3D models, dive videos and more.
Tour the Colossus wreck
The London blew up on passage from Chatham in March 1665. It's now one of the more famous protected wreck sites following three high profile field seasons. It's located in a highly tidal environment with extremely poor visibility on the edge of a shipping channel which means it's not easy, or attractive to dive.
Tour the London wreck
The Coronation was a 90-gun second rate built in 1685. She saw defeat at the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690 before foundering in a strong gale whilst patrolling for the French fleet off Plymouth. The project team have now recorded 88 cannon and seven anchors remaining on the seabed.
Tour the Coronation wreck
Holland No 5
The Holland No 5 is a remarkable piece of our naval heritage and was one of the first submarines to be accepted into the Royal Navy in 1902. She was equipped with one of the first periscopes; at the time of her launch, no other submarines in the Royal Navy or the United States Navy were so equipped.
Tour the Holland No 5 wreck
The Invincible was a revolutionary warship. Originally French and then captured by the British Navy, her design would help influence the future design of British naval vessels. The Invincible was wrecked in the Solent after a series of calamitous events in 1758. The site was discovered in 1979 and the virtual trail shares some of their finds and experiences as well as bringing the site alive.
Tour the Invincible wreck
The Norman's Bay wreck contains a cluster of at least 51 iron guns, timber hull structure and various other artefacts including a large anchor on top of a ballast mound. The identity of the wreck is still being researched but archaeologists think it is the 64-gun Dutch warship, the Wapen Van Utrecht, which sank during the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690.
Tour the Norman's Bay wreck
The German submarine U8 was one of only four U5 series U boats built in the First World War. The U8 marks a turning point between submarines as a defensive coastal craft on the side lines of the action to a phenomenally effective offensive weapon that would play a key role in the First, and Second World Wars. This fascinating virtual tour includes CGI reconstructions of the submarine pre and post wrecking.
Tour the U8 wreck
The Association was part of the fleet of Admiral Sir Cloudesly Shovell that saw a massive loss in 1707. A miscalculation of their position led to four ships wrecking on the Western Rocks in Scilly with the loss of over 1,400 men. There are over 60 irons guns, anchors and a number of concretions to explore.
Tour the Association wreck
At least seven ships are known to have struck Bartholomew Ledge, a granite reef in St Mary's Sound, Isles of Scilly. The wreck that is protected dates to the second half of the 16th century and includes anchors, swivel gun, iron guns and a number of other artefacts.
Tour the Bartholomew Ledges wreck
Like the Association, the Tearing Ledge site is the wreck of a ship from Sir Cloudesly Shovell's 1707 fleet. Archaeologists believe it to be the Eagle following the discovery of a silver spoon marked with the initials of the ships Captain.
Tour the Tearing Ledge wreck
The Wheel Wreck consists of a large mound of cargo consisting of components of mining equipment. It was found by a local diver in 2005 and originally thought to date from 1850 onwards. This date has recently been questioned and the date could be much earlier which would make it even more significant.
Tour the Wheel wreck
What we've learnt from our virtual dive trail scheme
Read the two review papers below written by Historic England staff to find out more about why we commissioned virtual trails and what we learnt during the course of their development.