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AbOVe & leFT Threatened features from across our island’s history – from the remains of prehistoric forests at Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire to remnants of post-medieval industry at Gwithian in Cornwall – are being recorded by the project.

Given the sheer number of potential sites, the project currently focuses on nationally important, exposed archaeological sites, including the remains of prehistoric forests, Roman buildings, ancient salt-working sites, lost medieval ports, fishing settlements, modern coastal defences, and countless abandoned boats, barges, and ships.

But what makes this project even more interesting is that it is one of the largest community projects in the country. We have received a grant of £1.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund,

| Issue 306

| Issue 306

and are also generously supported by the Crown Estate and National Trust, with support from Historic England. Our teams are based all around the country, and hosted in London at MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) together with our partners the Council for British Archaeology in York, and with Nautical Archaeology Society in Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth. While we depend on volunteers, we provide local training and outreach programmes – from coast to coast. It is our hope that ever more local communities will take ownership of their coastal heritage and add to the bigger picture of England’s past. But first a look at what we are achieving.

CITiZAN to the rescue

Prior to launching this project, we were faced with something of a catch-22 situation: the ongoing natural and anthropogenic threats to England’s varied coastal and estuarine landscape make these locations less desirable for new building works, which in turn makes them less likely to be protected through recording by archaeological investigation via ‘normal’ planning policies and frameworks.

Thus relatively little archaeology was being done in these areas. Although the locations of many sites had been noted during the national ‘Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey’ (RCZAS) programme initiated by Historic England (formerly English Heritage), which involved both desk-based assessment and field-walking exercises, there was no national standardised system in place to record these vulnerable sites in detail or to regularly monitor their fate over the longer term.

CITiZAN will monitor features in, and adjacent to, the intertidal zone, or foreshore 

belOw Volunteers record a vessel at Crowlink, East Sussex. | current archaeology