Visit the Unpath’d website
Historic England is delighted to be leading on this exciting project which will explore how we can join up the UK’s amazingly rich and diverse marine and maritime heritage collections and use cutting-edge technology to unlock access to them.
The project aims to make its vast collections of charts, documents, images, film, oral histories, sonar surveys, seismic data, archaeological investigations and artefacts more accessible to the public and researchers.
Unpath’d Waters will also reach out to new audiences, working with them to understand their interests and needs and inviting the public to co-design ways of exploring the archives in order to uncover previously untold stories and highlight new questions to guide future research.
You can now search across a range of marine and maritime record resources using the 'Unpath'd Waters Portal'
Unpath’d Waters will directly help us learn how to make heritage data in England (as well as in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) far more accessible. It will also help us learn much more about the role of emerging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence in heritage, and about co-design with public audiences.
This will support marine planning and contribute to assessments of significance for heritage assets under consideration for statutory protection. It will also be a tool for researchers who might consult it for thematic studies to inform conservation.
When it is complete, we hope that Unpath’d Waters will provide a roadmap for future investment to unite all the UK’s marine collections for everyone.
The UK has a rich and globally significant maritime history. Shipwrecks date from the Bronze Age to the World Wars, bearing testimony to Britain as an island nation, and a destination for trade and migration. Aircraft losses, submerged monuments, ports and seaside resorts all tell personal stories of struggles and successes.
This heritage, covering 23,000 years, is represented by collections of charts, documents, images, film, oral histories, sonar surveys, seismic data, bathymetry, archaeological investigations, artefacts, objects and artworks. But they are often dispersed, unconnected and inaccessible, split between government organisations, commercial concerns, academic institutions, charitable foundations and trusts, museums, archives, and individual collectors.
Yet we know our maritime past is only becoming more important and significant to the public. Millions of people already visit museums that tell the stories of our maritime heritage. Exploitation of the sea is increasing, and the public is more aware of the negative impact of our activities. Colonialism, slavery and immigration are also linked to our maritime past. Our maritime heritage played a significant role in these.
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