The Scottish Atlantic Maritime Past: Heritage, Investigation, Research and Education is a project designed in partnership between WA Coastal & Marine and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland. The project focuses on Scotland’s underwater cultural heritage along the west coast and islands of the Scotland’s Atlantic façade.


SAMPHIRE will enable professional underwater archaeologists to engage with local maritime communities on the west coast of Scotland and aims to support the identification, investigation and appreciation of Scotland’s underwater cultural heritage preserved on and underneath the seabed.

By working collaboratively we hope to develop a shared sense of stewardship of those underwater archaeological sites. SAMPHIRE will also enhance the record and support future management of the underwater cultural heritage in Scotland.

Who are the SAMPHIRE team?

The SAMPHIRE team is made up of Scottish-based divers and professional archaeologists. You can find more detail on the project and the individuals involved on our blog at https://blogs.wessexarch.co.uk/samphire.

How can I get involved?

We are always happy to speak to anyone about underwater archaeology. For SAMPHIRE we are particularly keen to engage with local communities and marine users on the west coast. Local residents or seasonal visitors:  if you are interested in underwater archaeology and would like to share your knowledge about underwater sites in these areas we would love to hear from you.

What should I do if I know of an unreported underwater archaeological site?

You can contact the SAMPHIRE team through our website: www.wessexarch.co.uk/alba or by emailing us at samphire@wessexarch.co.uk

Or by calling us on 0131 524 9561 and asking to speak to the SAMPHIRE team based at WA Coastal & Marine’s Edinburgh Office or write to SAMPHIRE Project, WA Coastal & Marine, 7/9 North Saint David Street  Edinburgh, Midlothian EH2 1AW.

We will discuss the details of the site and check the archaeological databases to see whether the site is already known. If the site has been previously recorded we will see if we can add any more information. If your site is outside our study area we can direct you to organisations such as the SCAPE Trust (for coastal, sites on shore) or our project partners at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) who house the national database for underwater cultural heritage in Scotland

How can I stay involved after I report something to SAMPHIRE?

SAMPHIRE has been designed to keep the community at the heart of the archaeological process. We will research the reports and come back to you with all the known details of the site. If we decide to investigate the site further we will make every effort to invite you to join us and will do our best to work around your availability to participate alongside the team.

Who funds the SAMPHIRE Project?

SAMPHIRE is supported by The Crown Estate‘s Marine Stewardship Fund.

How can I find out about underwater archaeology and the law?

There are a wide variety of publications describing the legal aspects of archaeology on the seabed. The Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee (JNAPC) has published a short and user-friendly booklet ‘Underwater Finds – Guidance For Divers’ which covers most of the main issues. The SAMPHIRE team have expertise in this area and can try to answer all of your questions. Be aware that under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 all wreck finds should be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. We can do this on your behalf, thereby taking care of your legal obligations. The Finder may even be entitled to a salvage award – this applies to both modern and historic material.

See our Links page for more details.

West coast Scotland from the air, copyright WA Coastal & Marine (J. Benjamin 2012)

West coast Scotland from the air, copyright WA Coastal & Marine (J. Benjamin 2012)


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