IPMAG delivers underwater heritage CDP Course with IAI

IPMAG delivers CDP Course in collaboration with IAI:


Underwater Cultural Heritage in Ireland: Process, Practice and Preservation.


In October IPMAG was delighted to deliver a one-day course as part of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland’s (IAI) Continuing Professional Development programme.  The topic of the course was underwater cultural heritage (UCH) with particular emphasis on post-medieval underwater archaeology in Ireland.


The course took place in the Metropole Hotel in Cork City, organized by IAI’s director of CPD programming, Dr Eoin Sullivan and was delivered by IPMAG committee member and secretary Dr Connie Kelleher. The course was well attended on the day with both terrestrial-based and underwater archaeologists registered, spanning the private, public and academic sectors.


The content of the CPD course, the title of which was Underwater Cultural Heritage in Ireland: Process, Practice and Preservation, was broad with six lectures given over the duration of the day, on a variety of relevant topics. These were supported by short video presentations.


IPMAG Underwater Archaeology CPD course in Cork (Image: IAI)

Lecture 1 - Introduction to UCH: This introduced the attendees to the underwater cultural heritage and its many subdivisions, from Maritime Archaeology to Lacustrine Archaeology to Submerged Archaeology. It traced the evolution of underwater investigations from ancient times to modern day, including detailing some of the seminal projects that have taken place in underwater archaeology over the years.


Lecture 2 - UCH and the Law: The history and development of maritime and later admiralty law was considered in order to contextualise current/modern heritage legislation. The various maritime jurisdictions were detailed, which determine what heritage or other legal protections govern each one. Ireland’s heritage legislation pertaining to the protection of UCH was discussed, certain legal cases considered and international conventions covered, specifically the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. This was assisted by a short video presentation.


Lecture 3 – Practice, Process & Preservation: An overview was provided of how UCH works within the planning and development process. The key bodies were described, ranging from Government departments, the EPA, Local Authorities, Port and Harbour Companies and private/individual developers. The EIA/EIAR process formed part of the discussion and the role of both the National Monuments Service and National Museum of Ireland as regulators was included. The discussion also provided information on the various types of underwater archaeological surveys and investigations that may be required as part of any planning or development project.


Lecture 4 – Doing UCH: The practicalities and logistics of being involved in UCH were prefaced by looking at the various types of environments that may be encountered when working in underwater archaeology. The need for competency, teamwork, pre-planning, proper equipment and an understanding of the needs of each environment were examined. The discussion was supported by specific case studies and the methodologies employed for certain sites and the lecture concluded with an overview of some of the technological advances now available to UCH for the mapping and recording of sites.


Lecture 5 – Ethics & Issues in UCH: The debate between professional underwater archaeologists, salvors and treasure hunters continues, particularly on the international stage, when considering how UCH should be investigated and protected. The lecture considered some of these issues, with the background to treasure hunting detailed and some of the more recent high profile cases relating to shipwreck salvage discussed.


Lecture 6 – New Discoveries in UCH in Ireland: The final talk looked at some of the more recent discoveries in underwater archaeology from riverine, lacustrine and marine environments. It drew on examples from private, public and academic sectors and included a wide range of sites types, including logboats, fishtraps, shipwrecks, bridges and individual artefacts. The lecture was again informed by video from several of the sites to enhance the viewer’s understanding and immersion in the discussion.


Group who attended IPMAG CPD course in October in Cork (Image: IAI)

Next Event


IPMAG XXII Conference

26 February 2022, Online


Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group

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