UK news in brief: From Operation Dynamo to Dowth Hall

Survey records 30 wrecks sunk during Operation Dynamo

Over the course of two weeks in September and October, DRASSM (the French marine heritage agency), in partnership with Historic England, carried out a survey of 30 shipwrecks sunk during Operation Dynamo, which saw the mass evacuation of 338,000 Allied soldiers from Dunkirk between 26 May and 4 June 1940.

The survey was able to record the position, characteristics, and condition of 27 of the wrecks in fine detail using a multibeam echo sounder. The data-production was then able to confirm the identities of 19 of the vessels, including that of the Normannia, which was requisitioned as a troop carrier and sunk during an air attack on 30 May.

Photo: © DRASSM, multibeam processed by A Rochat (DRASSM) and M James (MSDS Marine/Historic England)

New technology helps protect nation’s shipwrecks

A new project by Historic England, together with MSDS Marine and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE), has developed a technique to mark forensically specific artefacts found on Protected Wreck Sites. This means the position and characteristics of elements, such as cannons, can be recorded, and are thus traceable. In this way, not only will the wreck be protected as a whole, but all the artefacts associated with it can be as well.

Commenting on this advance, Alison James, Heritage and Systems Manager at MSDS Marine, said: ‘This protective marking project is a game-changer for maritime archaeology and how authorities protect sites underwater. This year is the 50th anniversary of the legislation that enables the protection of wreck sites, and it seems completely fitting that this product has finally been deployed to help protect them for the next 50.’

Dowth Hall purchased by the Irish state

The Irish government has announced that it has purchased the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dowth Hall and desmesne, which includes the Brú na Bóinne National Park with its famous Neolithic passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth.

Commenting on the acquisition, Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, said: ‘Rarely does the state get an opportunity to acquire lands of such significance. This landscape and property are of exceptional heritage importance. Here, in this one place, we have over 5,000 years of recorded history. In our care, it will significantly enhance our management of the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage landscape. We will conserve and protect Dowth’s heritage in line with our obligations to UNESCO, and we will enhance responsible tourism, ensuring it becomes a standout destination.’