Visit a Protected Wreck Site
Of the 53 Protected Wreck Sites off England there are currently five (and more to come) that you can access on a protected wreck dive trail. For those who prefer to stay dry, there are virtual tours of some fascinating wrecks, or you can visit a wreck that lies above water.
On this page:
During summer 2017, a team of divers and archaeologists excavated and recorded the wreck site of Dutch East India Company vessel the Rooswijk. Find out more
Run by licensees and charter boats skippers, dive trails enable interested divers to get responsible access to protected wreck sites. Historic England has supported the development of these dive trails and the interpretation materials they include. Divers visiting the trails get the benefit of the insight and orientation provided by the trails and also the experience of the licensed teams and their archaeologists.
Follow the links below to find out about the wrecks and how to access the dive trails that are currently open:
- HMS Colossus
Dive HMS Colossus
Find out why Colossus is a protected wreck
- Iona II
Dive Iona II
Find out why Iona II is a protected wreck
Dive the Coronation
Find out why Coronation is a protected wreck
- HMS/m A1
Dive HMS/m A1
Find out why HMS/m A1 is a protected wreck
- Normans Bay
Dive Normans Bay
Find out why Normans Bay is protected
A new trail will open on Thorness Bay in early 2017 and we have plans to establish additional trails over the coming years. Follow #HEDiveTrail on Twitter for updates on their development.
How divers rate the dive trails
The feedback from all of the trails has been very positive. Divers tell us that the trail booklets really help get orientated underwater and help them understand what they are seeing.
How your dive helps us to care for the wrecks
We ask divers to share the photos they take of protected wreck sites with us. The photos you supply help us to monitor the condition of the wreck site as part of our Heritage at Risk work. Photos can be shared with @HE_Maritime on Twitter using the #HEDiveTrail hashtag or added to the wreck's List entry. Find out how to share your dive photos on the The List.
Your visits to wreck sites accompanied by licensed divers also deter those thinking of illegally accessing the wrecks.
Want to see wrecks without getting wet?
Not everyone can dive and indeed not all of historic wreck sites are underwater. At low tide you can walk to these three historic shipwrecks in Devon.
We've commissioned a series of virtual dive trails that you can tour without getting wet:
- HMS Arfon
- HMS/m A1
- HMS Colossus
- HMS Invincible
- Submarine U8
- Bartholomew Ledges
- Tearing Ledge
- The Wheel Wreck
- Norman's Bay
- Holland No5
Watch the video below for a preview of the Coronation virtual dive trail features.
There are more wrecks to explore in our Sketchfab collection of 3D wreck models.
Coming soon are virtual dive trails for:
- Thorness Bay
These trails use new technologies such as multi-image photogrammetric recording, 3D printing of geophysical survey data and virtual reality and augmented reality techniques. These 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. You can find out more about how the virtual dive trails were made and the technology behind them from an article in our Latest Research section.
On 1 April 2015 the part of English Heritage represented on this website changed its name to Historic England. You may notice that some of our content still refers to English Heritage. We are in the process of rebranding, but in the meantime please be assured that all our content and guidance is still current.
HMS Falmouth recreated in its final resting place using underwater surveying and digital 3D modelling on centenary of sinking
English Heritage opens first submarine dive trail.
English Heritage launches 5th Underwater Dive Trail off Lundy Island in the South West of England
Also of interest...
Archaeologists are excavating the wreck site of the Rooswijk. Follow their progress, come to an open day at Ramsgate or join a course or wreck tour.