Major showcase for most important underwater excavation in decades to begin with call for volunteers

The National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust (MAST) work collaboratively on the excavation of HMS Invincible 1744 credit Mike Pitts

Since 2017 the £2million underwater excavation of HMS Invincible 1744 by the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust in partnership with Bournemouth University has grabbed the nation’s imagination.

A dedicated team of archaeological divers guided by Dan Pascoe, the site’s licensee, has been working against time in the Solent to reveal the wreck’s secrets in what is the country’s most significant maritime archaeology project since the 1980s.

Now the chance to share the important scientific findings, technology and history behind the project is secure, with confirmation that MAST and The National Museum of the Royal Navy have been awarded a £360,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Invincible, built by the French in 1744 and captured by the Royal Navy in 1747, sank in the Solent in 1758. Her special design, unique lines and 74-gun capacity were copied and her Class became the backbone of the Royal Navy’s fleet right up to the end of the sailing navy and the beginning of the age of steam.

The grant will fund a three-year project of events across the region including cutting edge digital resources and major exhibitions which aim to take these stories from the sea bed and the dive boat to the land.

MAST Senior Archaeologist Giles Richardson with bowl retrieved from HMS Invincible credit Mike Pitts

The project starts with the creation of a significant volunteer programme in Portsmouth and in Poole which will get people involved in essential work. Up to 34 volunteers will be recruited in a variety of roles including:

The first appointment to the project team has already been made as Community Archaeology Producer Eileen Clegg joins the National Museum. She will work closely with Senior Archaeologist Giles Richardson of MAST and Bournemouth University maritime archaeologist and Volunteer Co-ordinator Kevin Stratford in Poole. The last dive season on the wreck is due to commence April 2019 and will likely yield many more amazing artefacts.

Michelle Roffe – Head of HLF South East, said: “We are delighted to see this volunteering project to excavate one of the most important shipwrecks of our time get underway. Invincible is hugely significant, being the most complete, and well preserved warship from the mid-18th century.”

To learn more about the project and find out how to get involved as a volunteer join them at Action Stations, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on 6 November with Dan Pascoe presenting “The Excavation of the Royal Navy’s first Invincible.” There will be plenty of volunteering opportunities. To register interest, emailvolunteering@nmrn.org.uk.