Join the CITiZAN coastal heritage survey

Published : 11 Aug 2016

Extreme weather, rising sea levels and tidal erosion are posing an alarming threat to thousands of archaeological sites along England’s coast and tidal estuaries. A community-led project is calling for volunteers to help survey these nationally-important sites before they disappear.

CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network) is investigating thousands of sites over 5,600 miles of English coastline and over 500 miles of tidal foreshore. The sites span all historical periods from pre-historic submerged forests to Second World War coastal defences.

People power to tackle threat to heritage

Volunteers are needed to join the network to survey and monitor their local sites on an ongoing basis. Armed with tape measures, buckets and mobile phones, they’ll capture vital information about exposed archaeological sites.

The data recorded by volunteers is being collated on the CITiZAN interactive coastal map, a crowd-sourced database which will help form a lasting and evolving record of the history of England’s coastline and tidal estuaries.

Get involved at coastline we look after

The wreck below the cliffs at Crowlink, East Sussex, is among sites involved with CITiZAN that we look after. Believed to the remains of the Coonatto vessel which ran aground in 1876, the 43m wreck lies on the very edge of the intertidal zone and is subject to the erosive forces of the waves and tides.

Erosion is also threatening St Patrick’s Chapel on Heysham Head overlooking Morecambe Bay in Cumbria. The Grade I-listed chapel ruins are believed to date from the early Medieval period. The site also has a group of rock cut graves which are unique to England.

CITiZAN is also exploring the history of Brownsea Island in Dorset. Although Poole Harbour was a major port during the Iron Age, no Iron Age material has yet been found on the island with only remains from the Medieval period onwards having been identified so far. The project will identify existing and newly exposed remains, the evidence from which may well change our understanding of the island’s use.

Supporting the CITiZAN project

‘The threat of erosion to some of our most precious places cannot be underestimated, so it’s vital they’re recorded before it’s too late,’ says our head of archaeology, Ian Barnes.

‘We’re delighted to be supporting CITiZAN in its call to volunteers who can play an important role in helping to survey and monitor these sites before time and tide take their toll.’

The CITiZAN project is hosted by MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) and has been awarded £1.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This funding has been enhanced by The Crown Estate and ourselves together with support from Historic England.

Find out how you can get involved by visiting CITiZAN’s website. For those unable to take part in physical recording there are opportunities to get involved with desk-based research and outreach events.

This article was last updated on 13 August 2015.

Kynance Cove, Cornwall

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