MAST iconMaritime Archaeology Sea Trust
A wreck on a rocky beachA wreck under the seaAn artefact under the sea

Our mission

  • We believe that to protect our nation's future we must understand our past.
  • We believe that this country's rich maritime heritage can provide a critical insight to our history, through the underwater archaeology resulting from thousands of years of trade, wars and alliances.
  • We believe that we have a chance to preserve our future, but only together with the help of the people who are forging it, by evaluating and recording our underwater archaeology.

MAST's mission is simple

It is to focus its operations on the thousands of British wrecks that lie off our coasts. These wrecks are witness to hundreds of years of trade in cargo, people and ideas. They and associated artefacts illuminate our understanding of our past, explain man's extraordinary endeavours and what is still possible.

These wreck sites range across all periods from the some of the oldest in the world, dating from the Middle Bronze Age, to early 20th century submarines. Those that have been investigated have made great contributions to our understanding of the past. We have learnt about long distance connections with the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age, Tudor life and abilities, naval warfare during the English Civil War and the development of globalisation. But many more have been neglected through lack of knowledge or funding. And their stories remain as yet untold: Britain's coasts are littered with the remains of ships lost in these voyages. Indeed because of this and the UK's position on the maritime approaches to Northern Europe, we have more shipwrecks per mile of coastline that any nation on earth.

Despite the considerable contribution that our maritime past has made both to the UK as a modern nation and the multicultural nature of its people, this internationally important underwater heritage has long been the Cinderella of the nation's heritage.

MAST exists to fill a long overdue void in our understanding of our nation's rich maritime heritage, to ensure that there is a sustainable future for such sites, through archaeology, research, study and dissemination.

A close-up of an artefactA diver inspecting a wreckA bell sunk in the sand

MAST's plans

MAST has an ambitious programme. It will be active in archaeological excavation public outreach, research and consultancy.

Our major archaeological programme over the next four years, with partners Bournemouth University and the National Museum of the Royal Navy working alongside the site licensee Dan Pascoe, will be the excavation, conservation and display of archaeological material from HMS Invincible. The eventual exhibition will be at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.

MAST is expanding its education and outreach programme by acquiring Scuba Schools International (SSI) accreditation in its already popular Basic Archaeological Diver course. The BAD course is now available with the three largest recreational diving agencies PADI, BSAC and SSI. The international development of the course in the Far East in under development.

The Early Shipwreck Project. Prior to the 19th century known shipwrecks are very rare, only a handful are known to exist around the coast of the UK. Very few of these have been subject to any level of archaeological investigation, yet all of these sites contain as yet unrealised evidence of seafaring, trade and human connections. MAST has started a programme of investigation of the UK known pre 1800 shipwrecks sites that will enable them to be characterised and their potential unlocked.

An interpretation programme of UK maritime coastal heritage. We are taking this forward with a number of partners which include the National Trust. These trails, both water and land-based, are designed to promote a greater understanding of our maritime past. Educating the public will also promote a greater awareness of the need to protect, conserve and study our underwater cultural heritage.

A number of consultancy opportunities have been completed by MAST over the last five years. This is an area where MAST intends to expand its operations to include more development lead work including desk based studies, WSIs, dredging/watching briefs and impact studies including monitoring and mitigation works.