My primary archaeological research concerns technological change and innovation within the construction and use of watercraft. I have particular areas of interest relating to the ancient and early medieval periods in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. Research into this subject has been driven by fieldwork at the Roman port of Myos Hormos on the Red Sea and augmented through maritime ethnographic fieldwork in India and East Africa into traditional boatbuilding and boat use. The results of this work indicates that maritime technological change rarely took place because of the functional or environmental reasons so often claimed by maritime archaeologists, instead emphasising the role of people and economic factors in shaping maritime technology. My on-going research has also highlighted the continuing value of maritime ethnography to the discipline of maritime archaeology in the context of boat and ship archaeology.
Closer to home, I also carry out work in the Solent region and along the south coast of England studying the construction of a range of ships and boats in collaboration with the Maritime Archaeology Trust. In particular, this work has focused upon the development of innovative construction materials, such as copper and copper-alloys to shipbuilding processes during the 18th and 19th century in both Naval and merchant vessels. I am also concerned about the on-going management of maritime cultural heritage as it faces a number of challenges revolving around coastal change and the increasing exploitation of our seas and oceans in the 21st century. To this end I am involved in recent and on-going work which seeks to enhance the management of underwater cultural heritage within England. This has included overseeing the English Heritage pilot study for the practical viability of extending the use of scheduled ancient monuments to the marine zone. Current projects include on-going research into the schooner Ocean, lost in the eastern Solent in 1865. I also specialise in bringing archaeological archives to full publication and I am currently engaged in working upon the final analysis of the wreck of the Stirling Castle, a 70-gun 3rd-rate Royal Navy vessel lost on the Goodwin Sands, Kent in the Great Storm of 1703 and subject to archaeological investigation since 1979.
Affiliate research group(s)
Dr Julian Whitewright
Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton
Avenue Campus, Highfield
Telephone:(023) 8059 7428