Screen shot from the virtual dive trail for the Wheel Wreck
Diver recording the cargo mound of the Wheel Wreck, Isles of Scilly. © Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Maritime Archaeology Society (CISMAS).
Diver recording the cargo mound of the Wheel Wreck, Isles of Scilly. © Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Maritime Archaeology Society (CISMAS).

National Marine Heritage Record

In line with HIAS Principle 2: Historic England should be the first point of call for and primary trusted source of national datasets, such as the National Heritage List for England and national marine heritage dataset, we are currently developing the National Marine Heritage Record (NMHR). This will be a dynamic dataset for everyone to search for records on marine heritage.

The dataset will inform responses to marine planning and contribute to assessments of significance for heritage assets under consideration for statutory protection. Researchers might also consult it for thematic studies to inform conservation.

Building on Historic England’s existing marine data, the NMHR will relate to heritage assets that lie between Mean High Water and the 200 nautical mile sea limit, as well as the tidal extent (at Mean High Water spring tides) of rivers, estuaries and creeks – i.e. the operational extent in England of the Marine Management Organisation’s (MMO) inshore and offshore remits as laid out under the terms of the 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Historic England will work with partners, such as with Local Planning Authorities, to future proof the NMHR as much as is feasible. Historic England will also work with other national partners, especially the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO), to hold all appropriate heritage data on the English Offshore (12-200 nautical mile) area, and to build enhanced bilateral data-flows with such organisations.

Seamless online access

The NMHR will enable seamless online access via a dedicated portal, including a query function and web services for data flows to/from major data-holders such as the MMO, UKHO and the British Geological Survey both external and internal to Historic England.

Users can currently access marine records via the Heritage Gateway under the subheading Non-Statutory National Data Historic England research records.

This includes over 37,000 shipwrecks, including approximately 6,000 identified wreck sites, and a further 31,000 wrecks known only from documentary sources, including historic newspapers as well as authoritative secondary sources such as Richard and Bridget Larn’s Shipwreck Index of the British Isles. In addition to shipwrecks, there is also information on approximately 7,500 unidentified seabed obstructions, approximately 1,000 isolated findspots, as well as activities, people, organisations and bibliographic sources. It is a dynamic record which is continually enhanced with the results of thematic research projects, commercial fieldwork, and flowlines of information from external parties.

Our records are also accessible as part of the aggregated national dataset compiled by the Unpath’d Waters project as a shared and cross-searchable online catalogue of marine data across the UK. This catalogue is now freely and openly available via the Unpath’d Waters Portal.

Marion Page

HIAS Communication and Engagement Manager