Marinet summarises Archaeological Record for Goodwin Sands ahead of magnetometer report

Marinet has written to Historic England, the Marine Management Organisation and the Dover Harbour Board’s consultants, 8th July 2017, ahead of publication of the results of the magnetometer survey of the proposed dredge site (Area 521) in South Goodwin Sands.

This magnetometer survey (which detects ferrous objects to approximately 2 metres depth of sand) has been required by Historic England and the MMO because of concerns about the presence in the proposed dredge site and surrounding area of crashed WWII aircraft and historic shipwrecks including sunken vessels from WWI and II, and the fact that earlier sonar surveys may have missed their presence.

Crashed military aircraft are assured automatic protection under the Protection of Military remains Act 1986 and naval shipwrecks since 1914 likewise if specifically listed.

Marinet has written to Historic England, the MMO and the Harbour Board’s consultants to point out that sonar surveys (which are being repeated in conjunction with the magnetometer survey) commonly fail to identify archaeological and historical material which is buried by sand and are thus undetectable to sonar techniques. This failure is evident, Marinet points out, from the conclusions of the earlier EIA sonar surveys.

Equally crucially, WWII aircraft were largely made of non-ferrous material. Their structure was made of aluminium alloy and wood with canvas outer sheathing, and even the engines of planes like the Spitfire had engine cylinder blocks made of aluminium alloy. This means that a magnetometer survey is not necessarily guaranteed to detect their presence.

Also nearly all ships prior to the beginning of the 20th Century were wooden, thus wrecks will be equally impervious to detection by a magnetometer. A magnetometer survey will thus be detecting incidental and associated items — cannon balls, propellers, engine components and such like — and will require very careful interpretation.

A copy of the Marinet summary of the Archaeological and Historical record, July 2017, may be seen here.


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