An aerial view of th Humber Bridge
An aerial view of the Humber Bridge. © Historic England, Image reference 28996_004
An aerial view of the Humber Bridge. © Historic England, Image reference 28996_004

Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey of the Inner Humber Estuary

This aerial investigation and mapping project comprises an archaeological survey of 256 square kilometres of riverine and coastal strip along the Inner Humber Estuary between Sunk Island/Grimsby in the east and Trent Falls in the west. The project will enhance our current knowledge of the archaeological resource of this important section of English coastline.

England’s coastal zone contains a legacy of historic assets including a complex array of fragile and irreplaceable archaeological remains, historic buildings and structures, and entire landscapes. These remains are vulnerable to a wide range of threats, such as those associated with commercial development and shoreline management, as well as natural processes of coastal change.

The project will update the historic environment records (HERs) for the Unitary Authorities of North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, East Riding of Yorkshire and City of Hull as well as assess new sites for statutory designation (scheduling).  The project is component one of the Inner Humber Estuary Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment (RCZAS) and is part of a national survey to assess the coastline.

The archaeological resource

The current known archaeological resource within the project area includes a range of evidence from the Palaeolithic to the twentieth century.

The estuary was a rich resource for early hunter gatherer communities and a major transport route for trade and industry from the Bronze Age onwards. Evidence for farming and settlement includes sites such as the deserted medieval settlement of Immingham, where 1940s aerial photographs reveal the earthworks of former streets and building platforms juxtaposed with medieval ridge and furrow cultivation.

Military remains

Evidence for Second World War military sites, such as the anti-aircraft battery at Sunk Island, illustrate the importance of the estuary during that period of conflict.

Project details

Sites such as these demonstrate the potential for the project to significantly enhance our understanding of the diversity and importance of the archaeological resource within the Inner Humber Estuary, which will help inform future management and conservation and shape future development within the project area.

The project area extends from Sunk Island/Grimsby in the east to Trent Falls in the west. The survey will review of all easily accessible aerial photographs, digital aerial imagery and lidar data for the project area. Digital mapping and database recording of all archaeological features visible on the imagery will be undertaken to current Historic England standards.

Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Cornwall Council will carry out this project between September 2018 and December 2019 with funding by Historic England through the Heritage Protection Commissions Programme (project 7258).

Dr Fiona Fleming

Archaeologist, Cornwall Archaeological Unit

Fiona is an archaeologist with Cornwall Archaeological Unit, specialising in Landscape Archaeology and aerial photographic interpretation and mapping. Her work has included a diverse range of projects, from commercially-led assessment and evaluation to complex landscape projects, working with national heritage bodies and historic environment professionals.

Contact Dr Fiona Fleming