South West
Maritime
Archaeological
Group

Based in the United Kingdom, we are a team of avocational divers with a passion for  history from the Sea.

Our Team

The SWMAG team , both present and past , is built up of a group of amateur archaeologists who spend their spare time diving, researching and documenting maritime history covering over 3000 years

The late Neville Oldham
Mick Palmer (Chairman)
Jim Tyson
Mick Kightley (Treasurer)
Ron Howell (Secretary)
Dave Dunkley
Andy Elliot
Mike Kingston
Mike Turner
Mike Evans
Andy Wagstaff
Jullie Williams (Honorary member)
Mike Williams (Honorary member)
Dave Parham (Archaeologist)
Dave Illingworth (Past member)
Richard Boone (Past member)
Steve Clarkson (Past member)
Chris Yates (Past member)

Examples of our work

Moorsand

An assemblage of Middle Bronze Age weapons thought to represent part of a contemporary cargo and thereby indicative of a shipwreck, off Moor Sand. Dated to around the twelfth century BC, swords, palstaves, and other bronze materials have been recovered, thought to have been manufactured in France. If this is the case, then France may have been the de facto departure point of any wrecked vessel.

 

Salcombe Cannon Site

Finds of cannon and timber fragments, which together with other finds (including a rich assemblage of gold artefacts) suggest a possible mid-seventeenth century wreck site, perhaps centred around 1636 to 1640. Subsequent artefacts of Bronze Age date, largely weapons, have also recently been recovered from the same location, but would appear to relate to a possible earlier wreck in the same area, rather than directly associated with the seventeenth century wreck.

About us

The team consists of all amateur divers except for one member (Dave Parham) who is the appointed archaeologist and works as a lecturer on Marine Archaeology at Bournemouth University. We operate within the legislative framework in the UK and work closely with The Receiver of Wrecks, English Heritage and The British Museum. Under the protection of Wrecks Act, two members of the team are the licensees for the Salcombe and Erme Estuary sites. SWMAG is primarily funded by the team but from time to time receives awards and grants from organisations such as The British Museum and The British Sub Aqua Club.

SWMAG has evolved over the past 30 years and currently has fourteen members. It was formed from groups working on projects in the North as well as South Devon. The marine archaeological projects have ranged from shipwrecks sunk in the 20th century to sites nearly 3000 years old. The more recent projects have involved sites in South Devon including the protected wrecks of “Salcombe Cannon Site” ,”Moorsands” and the “Erme Estuary”

This website contains information about the shipwrecks and artefacts investigated by the team over the years. This includes some of the stories and history that has come to light during our research.

Many artefacts including gold and tin ingots have been found on the Devon sites, indicating a strong trade connection between Devon and Europe as well as North Africa. All of the artefacts are now with the British Museum and details of some of them can be found in the ‘Artefacts’ pages on this website. Due to the significance of the Salcombe sites, the BBC have made various films with the team including “White Slaves Pirate Gold”, “Digging for Britain” and “Ancient Britain”.

For our marine archaeological work , the team have been to “Buckingham Palace” to receive the BSAC Duke of Edinburgh prize on two occasions.

“SWMAG demonstrate that recreational divers can work responsibly with great success in maritime archaeology in the UK. Through their work on the Salcombe Cannon Site they have set the standard that all other groups should aim for”.  –  Mark Beattie-Edwards ” The Nautical Archaeology Society “

Organisations we work with

Historic England

Historic England has worked with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to deliver the marine planning system set out in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, including the UK Marine Policy Statement; a reformed system of marine development licensing; the identification of Marine Conservation Zones; and the integration of cultural heritage within the management of inshore fisheries within 6 nautical miles (nm).

Receiver of Wrecks

The Receiver of Wreck, Camilla Moore, deals with cases of voluntary salvage wreck material across the UK, and makes sure that the interests of both salvor and owner are taken into consideration. The RoW team processes incoming reports of wreck. This involves: researching ownership of wreck material working with the finder and owner working with other interested parties, such as archaeologists and museums

MSDS Marine

MSDS Marine are a Marine and Coastal Contractor specialising in the management, execution and support of archaeological projects in the marine environment. MSDS Marine have a wide range of experience and expertise within the industry from the project management of large scale underwater excavations through to the fulfilment of archaeological licence conditions prior to large infrastructure developments. MSDS Marine provide geophysical and hydrographic services including data collection, processing, visualisation and interpretation.

Nautical Archaeological Society

Our mission is to research, record and protect our threatened underwater and coastal heritage for the benefit of everyone. We strive to involve everyone in our mission to Protect, Record and Research all forms of nautical heritage whilst maintaining the highest ethical standards.