Metal Hulled Sailing Vessels

by MAT

The archaeological potential and significance of the collection of metal hulled sailing vessels within English territorial waters is currently poorly understood. Many of these vessels are unique and reflect a period of dynamic change for shipbuilding between the mid 19th and early 20th centuries; they reflect a range of economic as well as technological factors. None of these vessels are currently protected under heritage legislation, and due to the environmental impacts on their metal hulls they are believed to be deteriorating relatively rapidly. 


This project has been generously funded by Historic England is developing understanding of the archaeological character and research potential of the sites of metal hulled sailing vessels (MHSV) in English waters to help develop management approaches for them. Initial work identified 101 sites from heritage databases as being within the scope of the project, but others area known to exist in the study area.  


The project will provide opportunities for volunteers to be involved in researching the sites and we welcome anyone who might like to be involved to get in touch. We will provide training and support in use of a proforma Record Form approach to using a wide range on online sources for research that will help develop understanding of individual ships and their biographies.  


The project will be reviewing the collection of MHSVs as a whole for its potential to illuminate on a range of research themes in England and internationally and assess the significance of those sites identified as priorities within the dataset. 


We will be providing updates on project progress on this page and through blog posts on ships, so be sure to check in regularly for new resources!  


If you are interested in getting involved in research, please contact Greta on

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