Analysing Maritime Archaeological Archives: Collections, Access and Management
Maritime archaeological archives within the UK often face an uncertain fate. Some are deposited in public repositories, while others are dispersed, are deteriorating, remain uninterpreted and uncurated, are sold or sometimes abandoned. The net result puts elements of the nationally important cultural heritage resource, which tells the story of human interaction with the sea, out of reach for researchers, educators and the public as a whole. Research to understand the nature and scale of the problems faced by maritime archaeological archives is presented within this volume. Subjects covered include a review of coastal museums and their approach to maritime archaeological archives and presentation of the results of an extensive survey which sought to discover where archives are held, their composition and issues of access ownership and storage. Further in-depth consideration of the maritime archaeological archive backlog within England has identified where incomplete or low levels of analysis and publication are hampering access to past investigations and impacting on the development of the discipline. Maritime archaeological archives provide challenges for museums, archaeological, heritage management and special interest groups involved in their creation and management. The various regulatory regimes and development frameworks impacting their production, curation and deposition are examined and situations where work on sites falls outside of any management processes identified. Issues related to roles and responsibilities for the overseeing of archive flow from seabed to repository are scrutinised along with a range of systemic and practical issues which need to be addressed to ensure a more positive future for these significant archives.
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