NAS Marine Archaeology Course- enrolling now.


Orkney is one of the most exciting areas in the world for marine archaeology. Scapa Flow and the waters around the islands offer divers the unprecedented opportunity to explore shipwrecks from both world wars.

The University of the Highlands and Islands together with the Nautical Archaeology Society are now enrolling students for a 3-day marine archaeology course: Recorder and Surveyor Day. The course will provide an opportunity to dive on shipwreck sites at the Churchill Barriers in addition to sites in the Bay of Ireland, Stromness.

  • Duration:       3 Days
  • Time:              9.00 am to 5.00/6.30 pm
  • Venue:            Bay of Ireland; Churchill Barriers
  • Dates:             10 -12th February 2017
  • Tutor:           Sandra Henry
  • Qualification: The Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) Underwater Recorder and Surveyor Day
  • Cost:                £120 (course is subsidised by Historic Environment Scotland)

The cost excludes accommodation and equipment hire.

This three-day course is aimed at anyone interested in maritime archaeology and heritage underwater.

The recorder and surveyor days will entail underwater survey and recording remains of blockship wreck sites at the Churchill Barriers and on a submerged landscape site at the Bay of Ireland near Stromness, Orkney. Participants will directly contribute to the understanding of Orkney past landscapes and ongoing monitoring of the wartime heritage in Scapa Flow.

Participants in the course will:

  • Learn about the factors involved in planning archaeological work and projects
  • Understand how to conduct a 2D survey
  • Learn how to set out and position-fix a grid (intertidal only/site dependant)
  • Understand how to use a planning frame
  • Produce a 2D survey that can be used for further project planning.

There are two NAS E-Learning courses available online (Introduction to Maritime Archaeology and Underwater Archaeology) which are complementary to the practical 3Day course. They do not have to be done first, although it would be helpful if you completed them before you arrived in Orkney. These courses can be accessed here.

To reserve a place please contact:

  • Sandra Henry, The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, Orkney College UHI, Kirkwall, Orkney KW15 1LX.
  • E-mail:
  • Tel: 01856 569225


This course has been subsidised by Historic Environment Scotland.

German High Seas Fleet Scrap Sites to be Surveyed

Scapa Flow: View from Hoy looking across to Stromness

The wrecks of the First World War German High Seas Fleet that lie on the seabed in Scapa Flow, Orkney are renowned as one of most famous wreck diving sites in the world.

These wreck sites also provide marine archaeologists with an unparalleled insight into the construction of warships from this period.

Archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute have teamed up with  SULA Diving to undertake a Historic Environment Scotland funded project on the salvage sites of the scuttled wrecks of the High Sea Fleet.

The High Seas Fleet was interned at the Royal Navy base Scapa Flow, Orkney at the end ofsites the First World War. Admiral Ludwig Von Reuter, believing the armistice was over, ordered the fleet to be scuttled. This resulted in the sinking of 52 of the 74 interned vessels. After the scuttling, 45 of these vessels were salvaged and various components of the ships’ structures lie on the seabed marking these wreck sites, a cultural heritage resource that is relatively undocumented. Today, the 7 wrecks that were not salvaged constitute one of the most famous wreck diving sites in the world.

The project is led by Sandra Henry (Marine Archaeologist, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute) and Kevin Heath (SULA Diving) on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland and aims to identify the locations of the primary scrap sites and associated secondary sites from the salvaging of the German High Seas Fleet.

The Seydlitz

The secondary scrap sites were created as the upturned hulls of the major vessels of the High Seas fleet were moved to shallower water off Lyness, Scapa Flow. Personal accounts suggest that the salvors would attempt to tow the vessels across the bar at Ryssa Little, sometimes losing superstructure elements in the process. If the upturned hulls did not make it then the salvors would know that the ships were too deep to make it into Rosyth for final scrapping.

One of the aims of this project will be to investigate this assertion and survey the areas around Ryssa Little for these superstructure elements that were lost during these operations.

Recent marine archaeological surveys have collected small amounts of data in regard to the scrap sites indicating that this resource is far more substantial and intriguing than previously believed. The scrap site assemblages include major components of ship structures such as masts, searchlights, plating, steam pinnaces, funnels and so on. Furthermore, these wreck sites, due to their deconstructed nature, are at high-risk of salvage activity.

This project will provide baseline data for long-term monitoring of the sites. The project data and results will be available to the public through the Scapa Flow Wrecks website (, along with various other platforms and exhibitions.


GIS in Maritime Archaeology Course

DSC_0133 editedThe University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute are running a Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) Part III course: GIS in Maritime Archaeology at Orkney College. 30th and 31st July 2016.

  • Duration: 2 Days
  • Venue: Orkney College, Kirkwall
  • Dates: 30th -31st July
  • Tutors: Sandra Henry, Mark Littlewood
  • Qualification: The Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) Part III course – QGIS
  • Cost: £140

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is frequently used to create accurate maps with data attached that can be viewed, analysed and published for dissemination.

This two-day introductory course will provide an overview of features in QGIS – a freely available GIS software package commonly used by archaeologists. Although focussing on this particular programme, the skills and procedure students are introduced to can be used in other GIS programmes (such as ArcGIS, gvSIG, GRASS GIS). Comparisons will be made with these other programmes during the course.

During the two-day course students will be introduced to:

  • Why do we use GIS?
  • How to set up a GIS – map, projections, file-paths, toolboxes and other house-keeping
  • Data sources-where to find accessible maps and other resources
  • How to add these datasets to the GIS
  • Geo-rectifying -providing spatial references for images and maps
  • Other common GIS tools
  • Digitising features through the creation of points, lines and polygons
  • Attach data to these features within an attribute table
  • Interrogation and analysis of spatial data through querying
  • Linking databases
  • How to display data – creating figures for publication and research dissemination

Students will be provided with datasets and will gain experience using the programme through a series of practical exercises.

To reserve a place on this course please contact:

Sandra Henry, Archaeology Institute, Orkney College UHI, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1LX. E-mail:  or Tel: +44 (0)1856 569 223

Or download an application form GIS Booking Form and e-mail to or send to the address above

Visiting the Wreck of German Destroyer B98

As part of Battle of Jutland Commemoration Day, staff from Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, gave a presentation concerning the B98 German destroyer wrecked at Lopness on the island of Sanday, Orkney.

Later that day a visit was made to the wreck site.

The B98 is a World War One German destroyer that has the distinction of delivering the last mail to the interned High Seas Fleet within Scapa Flow on the 21st of June 1919; the fleet itself had just been scuttled.

The B98 was one of two units of the B97 class of destroyer built at the Blohm Und Voss yards at Hamburg. Completed in 1915 she saw action as part of the 2nd Flotilla at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.  Engaged by cruisers and destroyers B-98 was hit once losing her after torpedo mount, 2 of her crew and 11 wounded.

During Operation Albion, a German land and naval operation to invade and occupy the Estonian islands of Saaremaa (Osel), Hiiumaa (Dago) and Muhu (Moon) which were then part of Russia in September and October 1917, B-98 boarded Russian destroyer Grom capturing five prisoners and securing a code book. Unfortunately, the towing of Grom had to be abandoned and she capsized shortly thereafter. During the night whilst proceeding to anchor near the wreck of Grom, B-98 hit a mine. She lost her bow with 14 killed and 7 injured but was able to limp back to port in Libau.

The B98 was to be assigned to one of the allied powers.  It is unclear whether a decision had been made as to which allied power the B98 had been assigned to. It is also unclear whether any decision had been made as to whether she would have been scrapped or re-used in the navy of an allied power.

She is reported as breaking her tow on the 17th of February 1920 and running aground off Lopness Bay, Sanday. The majority of the ship was subsequently cut up for scrap in the 1940s; it is unclear how much of the B98 remains beyond what can be seen visually.

One of the guns of the B98 is now on display at the Maritime Museum in Lyness, Orkney.

If you want to know more about the wrecks in Scapa Flow then click below:

Scapa Flow





HMS Hampshire Initial ROV Images

Initial images from the ROV Survey of the HMS Hampshire wreck site. 25th May 2016

HMS Hampshire sank on the 5th June 1916 when she struck a mine laid by German U-Boat U75. The wreck is located in approximately 60 metres of water off the west coast of Orkney and sank while en-route to Archangel in Russia. She was transporting Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, to a meeting with Tsar Nicholas II.

The first archaeological condition assessment and recording of the wreck and surrounding seabed was recently undertaken by the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute working in partnership with Seatronics – an Acteon Company, Teledyne RESON, Roving Eye Enterprises Ltd and Triscom Marine Ltd. This work offers new information and data concerning the wreck and provides insights into the mine damage at the bow of the vessel, the impacts of salvage activities on the wreck, and the natural deterioration caused by the marine environment.

The Roving Eye Enterprises ROV survey confirmed previous findings that HMS Hampshire capsized as she sank and lies with an upturned hull on the seabed in approximately 60m of water. The superstructure itself is compressed and is buried in the soft silt of the seabed. The hull is damaged in places throughout the length of the vessel, exposing various elements of the interior, including torpedo tubes and machinery. Guns from the ship’s secondary armament were also identified on the surrounding seabed at a distance of up to 30m from the main body of the wreck. The location of these breech loading 6-inch MK VII guns may be related to the sinking event or salvage activity on the wreck.

Sandra Henry, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute said that “This remote survey has provided many new insights into the sinking and wreck of the HMS Hampshire. Ongoing work will continue to develop our knowledge base, revealing new information as we continue to gather and process data, creating a record of the Hampshire in 2016”

Keith Bichan of Roving Eye Enterprises Ltd commented that, “It was a real privilege to be involved with this project. I am an Orcadian who has had had an ROV business in Orkney for nearly 20 years and the HMS Hampshire was a wreck I always wanted to visit, due to its importance to First World War history, and the mystery and controversy that still surrounds it.”

Further survey work using the Seatronics Predator ROV is in the planning stage.

This project has received funding and sponsorship from Interface, Orkney Islands Council and NorthLink Ferries.

Permission to undertake this remote survey was granted under licence by the MOD

For further information

Sean Page (Marketing Officer, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute). Tel: 01856 569229 e-mail

Sandra Henry (Marine Archaeologist, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute) Tel : 01856 569223 e-mail

New Maritime Archaeology Course

MAC ROV small ad

The University of the Highlands and Islands and Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) are offering a two day Nautical Archaeology Society course in the use of Remotely Operated Vehicles in maritime archaeology. The course is structured to contribute to a persons own career / professional development and at the same time contribute to the monitoring of wartime remains in Scapa Flow.

  • NAS MAC ROV surveying
  • 2 day course
  • 14th and 15th May 2016
  • Location: Kirkwall and Stromness, Orkney
  • Cost £249

For more infromation :

  • Phone: 01856 569223
  • email:



Finding The Utrecht

A marine archaeology project led by Kevin Heath of Sula Diving and funded by Orkney Island Council. Research completed by Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA).

Even now the weather in Orkney can cause difficulties for modern ships. With all our sophisticated navigation equipment and ships, vast seas and gale force winds can combine to close down the islands to all communications. Just imagine trying to sail around our beautiful, but treacherous islands while at war – in a small wooden ship – without local knowledge and without weather forecasts. Then imagine heading into mountainous seas with just your skill as a seaman to keep you from smashing against the rocks. That was the reality facing the warship Utrecht in the winter of 1807.

Built in Rotterdam, the Utrecht was part of the Dutch Navy. On 15th February 1807 the 38 gun warship was on it`s first voyage and was one of three frigates that were sailing to Curacao to reinforce the Dutch garrison stationed there against the British. The vessel was driven off course in a blizzard and was stranded off the North coast of Sanday with a recorded loss of 50 – 100 men. The remaining crew and soldiers came ashore and were stripped of their valuables by the islanders. A detachment of soldiers proceeded to Sanday where they found the survivors “in great distress… objects of pity rather than fear… [who]… had delivered themselves to the authorities in Orkney”. The survivors were brought to Kirkwall where they were briefly imprisoned at a makeshift prisoner of war camp at Gaitnip. They were subsequently taken to Leith where some of them joined the Royal Navy. The remaining survivors were returned home to Holland.

The project aims to build on previous work that located and conducted a preliminary assessment of the remains of the Dutch Frigate Utrecht, which was stranded off the Holmes of Ire, Sanday in 1807.

The remains of the Utrecht represent a unique resource in Orkney waters. The Utrecht is the only vessel of its type known to have sunk in Orkney waters – the closest equivalent being the remains of The Svecia off North Ronaldsay.

The second phase of this project recorded and planned the extent of the site and its artefacts. This would provide an invaluable baseline by which to monitor the wreck site, deterring high risk activities such as the site being plundered before protection measures are instigated. Recording the remains of the vessel through completion of this project contributes to local and national heritage management strategies e.g. Historic Scotland’s Strategy for the protection, management and promotion of marine heritage 2012 – 15, and the Scottish Historic Environment Policy. This project also carried out side scan and magnetometer surveys in order to define the extent of the wreck site. The archaeological dive team carried out site analysis; producing an archaeological record, wreck site and artefact distribution plan.

An illustrated report will be produced and lodged with the relevant local and national bodies. The initial display at the Sanday Heritage Centre will also be added to, using data from the project to highlight the story of The Utrecht.

A 3D model using photogrammetric software will be created of the wreck site elements; this will raise the profile of the wrecksite and will provide an interactive tool to encourage diver tourism in the Outer Islands.

Although the story of the shipwreck has been recorded in local archive sources and regional shipwreck anthologies, the location of the remains and associated artefacts were unknown until discovery during the initial phase of this project. There are several conflicting reports about the size of the vessel, the numbers of crew and passengers and the number of people who lost their lives as a result of this stranding – conflicts that will only be resolved by more detailed desk-based assessment and further investigation of the wreck site.

Click through to video of the cannon discovered in situ.

Thanks to :


Nautical Archaeology Society Courses

Are you interested in the maritime heritage of Orkney? Do you want to directly contribute to the monitoring of wartime remains in Scapa Flow? Would you like to learn how to plan a project, locate and record a site, deal with artefacts, undertake ROV surveys and learn how to use GIS mapping software?

Orkney College UHI, Historic Scotland and Nautical Archaeology Society are running a series of courses this year:


  • NAS MAC Introduction to ROV Surveys: This two-day course on the 14th- 15th May 2016 will focus on the use of smaller ROVs in archaeological surveys. Students will gain practical experience designing and completing different types of ROV survey. Cost £249
  • NAS MAC Introduction to GIS: This two-day introductory course on the 30th -31st July 2016 will provide an overview of features in QGIS – a freely available GIS software package commonly used by people working with large spatial datasets. Cost £140
  • NAS MAC Introduction to Side Scan Sonar Survey: This two-day course on the 24th -25th September 2016 will provide an overview of Side Scan Sonars, and the applications of remote sensing in archaeological surveys. Students will gain practical experience designing, completing and interpreting Side Scan Sonar survey. Cost £249

To reserve a place on a course or for further information, please contact:

Sandra Henry, Archaeology Institute, Orkney College UHI, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1LX. 


Tel: +44 (0)1856 569223

Maritime Archaeology Courses (MACs) are open to everyone but only members can gain credits towards the NAS Certificate/Award

Relics of War

Abstract from Mark Littlewood and Dr. Annalisa Christie`s recent paper : The large natural anchorage of Scapa Flow has played an important strategic role as the main northern naval base for Britain in both World Wars. As a result the seabed and surrounding coast is littered with wreckage and debris associated with the wartime defences and the vessels that were part of the conflicts.

The submerged remains of wartime vessels from both World Wars have been the focus of several Historic Scotland funded projects to confirm the identity and assess the extent, character and condition of these sites. Targeted vessels, sites, their debris fields and their surrounding seabed contexts were surveyed with side scan sonar then ground truthed by diver or drop camera to elucidate the condition of the remains.

The paper presents the outcomes of these recent surveys to demonstrate the diversity of submerged cultural wartime heritage in Orkney – from the remains of German battleships of the First World War, to experimental anti-torpedo close protection vessels of the Second World War and from crashed aircraft sites to extensive fields of boom defence debris. These will be explored examining how material culture and historic documents can be used to portray the personal narratives of the military personnel who would have interacted with them from the period.