Nets, Wrecks & Artefacts-Public Talk.

‘Maritime Archaeology and the Fishing Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries’.

Come along to this public talk, at 2:30 PM, on the 22 January at the Shipwreck Museum, Hastings and hear about marine archaeology and the Fishing Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries (FIPAD). Bring artefacts and questions!

Contact the Museum for further details.

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FIPAD Newsletter-Issue One Available

The first issue of the Fishing Industry Protocol for Archaeology Newsletter is now available to download. It features details on the success of the project during the last few months, some of the finds reported through the protocol, along with hints and tips on taking photographs and a simple guide to dating modern bottles. Future issues will cover other frequent finds, their recording and identification. If anyone has a topic they’d like covered in a future issue, or wish to be added to the mailing list for future issues, please get in touch.

FIPAD Relaunch 2016

Following on from the immense amount of interest and engagement from the fishing industry and the wider community whilst taking in to account limitations on fishermen’s time and a previously intermittent presence by heritage staff, a new approach to the reporting of finds has been launched.

In 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was approached for funding to support and create the position of Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer (HEFLO). Wessex Archaeology, with the support of the Sussex IFCA, was successful in their application to relaunch the FIPAD, and in February 2016 Alistair Byford-Bates was appointed to the HEFLO post.

By becoming a permanent presence on the ground in Sussex the HEFLO will liaise with the fishing community at times that suit the ebb and flow of their daily operations. This will hopefully lead to an improved exchange of information between heritage bodies and the fishermen of Sussex. This in turn should lead to increased reporting of new discoveries via the HEFLO and FIPAD, the collating of information on legacy artefacts, seabed fastener locations, and items recovered and returned to the seabed. In return there will be more successful identification of finds made by fishermen through Wessex Archaeology’s team of finds experts.

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In carrying out these duties the HEFLO will also provide advice and support on the legal implications of reporting maritime artefacts as required by the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. The HEFLO will also be engaging with the wider to community to raise awareness of our shared maritime heritage and the role the fishing community have played in it.

Alistair studied for a degree in Archaeological and Forensic Sciences and a Master’s degree in Applied Sciences by Research at Bournemouth University, after 25 years in the dairy industry. Since then he has been involved with commercial archaeology, working on a range of sites across the UK, and with a disaster management company in Africa and Europe.

Hastings Fishermen’s Museum

Many finds discovered offshore and reported through a Protocol will be accessioned into a Museum. As part of the this pilot scheme Wessex Archaeology staff processed finds from Hasting’s Fishermen’s Museum through the Protocol so that information about them enters national heritage databases. The finds are displayed in the museum around a traditional Sussex vessel – a lugger named the Enterprise.

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The finds are diverse and include fishing apparatus, ordnance and WWII aircraft parts, parts of vessels, a musket and even a cricket ball which was found in a fishing net in 1997. The Museum is one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions and preserves evidence of the thriving trade that has shaped the development of the Hastings area.

Bosham Statue

This headless and abraded stone statue is interpreted as having an ecclesiastical background. It was found off of Bosham by a fisherman using an oyster dredge and is one of the most evocative finds yet reported through the Protocol.

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The statue is made of granite – a difficult material in which to pick out fine details though it is clear that the figure is wearing a draped garment similar to a Roman toga. Iain Hewitt of Bournemouth University notes that early post-Roman Christians frequently regarded Roman stylistic elements as being synonymous with Christianity – hence many Christian images depict characters wearing draped ‘toga-like’ garments.

The statue itself is not thought to date from the Romano-British period (it is thought to be later) though as yet it is not firmly dated. Stone artefacts are dated based on typological styling and the absence of the head and abrasion of finer details makes firm dating of this find unlikely at this stage.

Granite is a robust and hard-wearing material which suggests that this statue was intended for display outside where the fabric of the stone would give it some protection from the elements. Wessex Archaeology staff noted that Bosham church, close to the area from which it was recovered, has a niche designed to hold a small statuette (and which currently holds a statue of Madonna and child).

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How the statue came to be offshore is unknown but two likely scenarios have been suggested. Iain puts forward the plausible theory that the statue may have fallen victim to a post-medieval iconoclasm. The second commandment – ‘No graven images or likenesses’ –  bans the worship of icons and this figure, which has been decapitated, may have been cast aside under this commandment. Alternatively, the statue may have been damaged and cast into the sea during civil unrest, such as the siege of Chichester during the English Civil War which occurred in December 1642 or the sacking of the city by earlier invaders (depending on the age of the statue).