Research outputs

  • RMG History of Science internships: 2004–2013
  • Research outputs from The Crown Estate-Caird Fellowship 2008
  • Research outputs from The Crown Estate-Caird Fellowship 2009

The following is a list of previous interns and projects at the Museum, with an indication of outputs produced, in addition to a submitted report on the research undertaken.


  • Ball, Nick: The Role of 18th-Century Ship Models in Ship Design, Including 3D Reconstruction with AutoCAD
  • Cole, Rupert: The History of the Caird Planetarium 1960s–1980s
  • Corbett, Ken: The Best Mean Time the Observatory can Supply': a Study of the Early Electrical Distribution of Time from the Royal Observatory and a research seminar at the NMM
  • Giovine, Allegra: Designing Steamers for Eastern Rivers: Denny and Global Trial Data, circa 1875–1930. Blog post: Designing Steamers for Eastern Rivers: Denny and Global Trial Data, circa 1875-1930
  • Waring, Sophie: The State of World Charting in 1807
  • Wright, Stephen: Representation of Islands on Early Modern Sea Charts


  • Barford, Megan: Lort Stokes and Hydrographic Practice
  • Danti, Giulia: The Sheerness Tide Gauge and Representations of Coasts and Tides in Art and Science and a blog post
  • Hendriksen, Marieke: Treasure Troves: 18th-Century Medicine Chests at the National Maritime Museum. Blog posts Quinine in the Arctic and Strong Medicine. Research seminar at the NMM and a conservation report
  • Keller, Jared: Royal Observatory Displays since the 1950s
  • Phillips, Eoin: Early 19th-Century Royal Navy-Owned Timekeepers and Chronometers
  • Poskett, James: Sounding Board: Mechanising Navigation at the Board of Longitude, 1802–1828 and a research seminar at the NMM.


  • Ezra, Ruth: The Instruments and Visual Culture of Thomas Tuttle and a research seminar at the NMM
  • Holmes, Caitlin: The Maskelyne Collection at the NMM. List of Maskelyne manuscripts, and Longitude blog posts A Fitting Resemblance and What a Difference a ‘dear Makes
  • Lim, Philly: Greenwich Park Research Project: an Interactive Demonstration of the History of Greenwich Park. Research seminar at the NMM and a digital interactive.
  • Maddaluno, Lavinia: Study of Instruments made for the Overseas Market. Conference paper and a published article in Antiquarian Horology (only available in pdf format)
  • McIlvenna, Kathleen: From Experiment to Relic: the Transitional Identity of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable and the Creation of Cable Communities through Submarine Cable Collections. MSc dissertation, research seminars at the NMM and elsewhere, and blog post: How to Celebrate a Submarine.
  • Salisbury, Hannah: The Life and Inventions of Ralph Walker, 1749–1824. Longitude blog posts An Alternative Longitude Solution – Ralph Walker and Magnetic Variation and Compasses, Commerce and Colonisation. 


  • Barrett, Katy: The Barrington Papers and the 1765 Longitude Act. Transcription of manuscripts, a published article in Notes and Records of the Royal Society: ‘”Explaining” Themselves: the Barrington Papers, the Board of Longitude, and the Fate of John Harrison’; research seminars at the NMM and elsewhere, and Longitude blog posts The Barrington Papers: Small Personal Archive Meets Big Institutional Science and Barrington, the BSHS and The Board.
  • Evans, Nick: Tale of the Gunter Scale and a research seminar at the NMM
  • Finch-Boyer, Heloise: The History of Electronic Charts. The ECDIS Manual, blog posts: Chart Wars: the Invention of Electronic Sea Charts and the Battle to Map the Future of Navigation and Helping Heloise, to Preserve Digital Charts. Research seminar at the NMM and elsewhere.
  • Huang, Hsiang-Fu: Orreries in the NMM Collection. MSc dissertation and a published article in the Taiwanese Journal for Studies of Science Technology and Medicine, issue 16, April 2013, pp161–222.
  • Scally, Hannah: The Admiralty Compass Observatory and a research seminar at the NMM.


  • Blakemore, Richard: Navigating Culture: Early Modern Navigational Instruments as Cultural Artefacts. A research seminar at the NMM, conference paper and a published article in Journal for Maritime History.
  • Helling, Colin: The Search for a Naval Rangefinder, 1880–1905
  • Kay, Michael: The Weigel Globe, a research seminar at the NMM, and blog post: Society in the Sky: a 17th-Century Attempt to Redraw the Constellations
  • Tirapicos, Luis: Reflecting Telescopes: from British Makers to Portuguese Astronomers and Students and Masters dissertation: O telescópio astronómico em portugal no século xviii.
  • Wilson, Lydia: Study of Four Arabic Astrolabes in NMM Collection


  • Belknap, Geoff: Photography, the Press, and Popular Science in the 1874 Transit of Venus Enterprise, a chapter in PhD thesis, amd a research seminar at the NMM.
  • Marchesetti, Andrea: The Society for Opposing the Endowment of Research: George Biddell Airy and His Role in the Debate on the State Funding of Research and a research seminar at the NMM.
  • Paskins, Mat: Henry Constantine Jennings and a research seminar at the NMM.
  • Raposo, Pedro: The Royal Observatory, Greenwich: a House of Science or a Scientific House? Blog post and a chapter in PhD dissertation: Polity, Precision and the Stellar Heavens: the Royal Astronomical Observatory of Lisbon.
  • Zuroski, Emma: Chinese Compasses, improved object descriptions and a published article in the Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society.


  • Carrington, Peter: ‘All things which need to be known’: an Investigation into the Arabic book ‘The Book of Routes and Regions’ by Al-Istakhri at the National Maritime Museum and a research seminar at the NMM
  • Cooper, John: A History of Maritime Radar: Technology and the Human Element, a research seminar at the NMM and an article published in Navigation News.
  • Pilkington, Helen-Frances: Revamping One’s Library: the Airy Restoration at the Royal Observatory 1835–1840 and a research seminar at the NMM
  • Taylor, Katie: The World in Your Pocket: a Study of Pocket Globes and a section entry for Collections Online.


  • Davis, Sophia: Moving Compasses: from Ships to Aeroplanes at the Admiralty Compass Observatory, research seminars at the NMM and elsewhere, and an article published in the British Journal for the History of Science: ‘Raising the Aerocompass in Early 20th-Century Britain’.
  • Hobson, Lisa: The Development of the Sextant, MSc dissertation, and an article in Viewpoint, the newsletter of the British Society for the History of Science.
  • Keene, Melanie: Globes and Games, an exhibition proposal, education activities, and a research seminar at the NMM.


  • Dry, Sarah: Barometers in the NMM collection, research seminar at the NMM, and an article published in the British Journal for the History of Science: ‘Safety Networks: Fishery Barometers and the Outsourcing of “Judgement at the Early Meteorological Department”’.
  • Jardine, Boris: Study of Instruments with Projections of the Celestial Sphere, Principally Gunter Quadrants, a research seminar at the NMM, and descriptions for Collections Online.
  • Roberts, George: George Fisher: a Pioneer of Scientific Chronometer Research, a research seminar at the NMM, and an article published in the British Journal for the History of Science: ‘Magnetism and Chronometers: the Research of the Reverend George Fisher’.


  • Jamieson, Annie: The History and Historiography of the Artificial Horizon, a research seminar at the NMM, and a draft article cited in Willem Mörzer Bruyns, Sextants at Greenwich.
  • Reeves, Nicky: Investigating an Astronomer’s Library: Nevil Maskelyne and the Geography of Information Exchange, 1765–1811 and a research seminar at the NMM.

'Using art to assist understanding of long-term coastal change'

The Crown Estate-Caird Fellowship 2008


Portsdown Hill'A view from Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth towards the Isle of Wight', William Daniell 1823. © Robin McInnes

Over the last twenty years there has been an increasing interest in establishing a sustainable framework for the management of coastal zones. This approach has necessitated improved collaboration between a wide range of stakeholders in what has become known as integrated coastal zone management. Such collaboration founded upon research into coastal evolution and sedimentary processes, together with the sharing of scientific knowledge, has become all the more important in the context of climate change.

LuccombeThis watercolour of Luccombe by William Gray, 1855, of the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight shows the coastline and cliff geology in great detail. The ledges were lost in landslide in 1910 and the raised ground on which they stood has since been eroded away. © Robin McInnes

There are a number of tools available to coastal managers and planning officers in Local Authorities, the Environment Agency and others involved in coastal risk management to assist them in improving their understanding of how the coastline has evolved. These include increasingly sophisticated monitoring systems taking advantage of air-borne or space-borne methods, as well as ship-borne and ground-based techniques. A further tool that can assist understanding of long-term coastal change is the use of historical resources including maps, early photographs, landscape paintings, watercolour drawings and engravings, which allow visual comparisons, over the last two hundred years, to be made; this approach can also be applied to changes in morphology, and land use patterns including coastal developments.

Map of the Scholarship Study AreaMap of the Scholarship Study Area © Robin McInnes

With financial support from The Crown Estate – Caird Fellowship 2008, the beneficiary, Dr Robin McInnes OBE, has combined his knowledge of coastal and geotechnical engineering with his interest in art to evaluate the importance of works of art in assisting understanding of coastal change, covering the time period from 1770-1920. The study area comprised the coastlines of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on the coast of central southern England. This location has a high value of coastal assets, but also faces increasing levels of risk from coastal erosion, flooding and landslip as well as being of considerable environmental importance; the area was visited by many artists in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Hard GosportA detailed oil painting of The Hard, Gosport by Martin Snape, 1919. Courtesy: Hampshire County Council Museums and Archives Service

The study involved the development of a methodology for assessing the value of works of art in assisting understanding of long-term coastal change and the preparation of a short-list of those artists and their works that are of the greatest value in this respect. The methodology has been validated by comparison of works by different artists who painted at the same location and later by comparing paintings, drawings and prints with early photographs.

The study concluded that art contained in national and local collections represents a valuable and presently under-used resource which, alongside other technical applications, can increase our understanding of not just physical change on the coast but also environmental, social and developmental changes. Art, can therefore, be of considerable assistance to coastal managers, planners and a wide range of other stakeholders including the general public.

For more information contact:

See a current article in the New Scientist relating to this topic: 'Past masters of coastal geology' by Stephanie Pain (30 July 2008).

'Geomorphic evolution of the Great Yarmouth coastal system: spit sediment dynamics and forcing mechanisms'

The Crown Estate-Caird Fellowship 2009

Hannah M. Evans, British Geological Survey

Executive summary

The potential for offshore sandbank systems to support resources such as wind farm developments, marine aggregates and sensitive habitats has triggered the need for an understanding of their geomorphic evolution. Such is the case for offshore sandbanks in the region of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk which have experienced a recent spate of investigation. However, despite the likelihood of sediment links, the interaction of these banks with adjacent coastal features has been largely overlooked. An understanding of coastal geomorphology is also central to the management of onshore resources such as buildings, infrastructure, scenic landscapes and sensitive habitats. This is especially pertinent in areas such as the Great Yarmouth region of Norfolk where the coastal geomorphology (the Great Yarmouth spit) protects low-lying land from extensive flooding.

Despite this strategic role in protecting and maintaining offshore and onshore resources, the role of coastal geomorphological features as sediment sinks is often neglected from studies of coastal sediment dynamics. For example, little is known of the volume of sediment held within the Great Yarmouth spit or its short-term fluctuations in sediment storage capacity. Such gaps in coastal sediment budgets mean that the effects of predicted future increases in relative sea level (RSL) and storminess are difficult to forecast. The current study will address this by examining the late-Holocene geomorphic evolution of the Great Yarmouth spit, providing a value for the volume of sediment stored within the feature and placing current morphological changes within an historical context. The specific aims of this research are to investigate: (1) spit volume, (2) spit morphological change (3) potential forcings for this change and (4) likely future morphological trends. Findings disseminated within this report result from the Crown Estate-Caird Research Fellowship, under the joint scheme between The Crown Estate and the National Maritime Museum.

Mathematical modelling of the pre-Holocene topography of the Great Yarmouth area highlights the existence of a wide palaeo-valley cutting the modern coastline between Caister-on-Sea in the North and Gorleston-on-Sea to the South. The Great Yarmouth spit lies across this feature and appears to be grounded against topographic highs contained within the channel. An early form (pre-1613AD) of the Great Yarmouth spit, lying across this estuary and extending southwards to Gunton, contained approximately 213x106m3 of sediment. The current feature holds approximately 190x106m3 and provides a significant sink for sediment within the Great Yarmouth coastal system.

Short-term fluctuations in the Great Yarmouth spit’s sediment storage capacity were identified by investigating morphological changes within the feature’s coastal zone from map and aerial photograph evidence. These fluctuations appear to be site-specific across the Great Yarmouth spit and adjacent areas. Indeed, between 1800 and 2007 Winterton-on-Sea experienced accretion whilst coastline retreat followed by a period of relative stability typified trends at Caister-on-Sea. North Denes shows sea-ward advance of the coastline but this occurs after a phase of erosion prior to 1890.

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach and Gorleston-on-Sea have remained relatively stable after a similar phase of pre-1890 erosion. All sites investigated are currently (2008 data) displaying either maintenance of or an increase in sediment storage capacity within the stable spit area (that above normal tidal conditions) with the exception of Caister Point which is undergoing erosion.

RSL change of +1.5mmyr-1 from 1000yrBP to present may account for a general landward migration of the coast planform. However, shorter term perturbations appear better related to individual storm events and coastal engineering works. The most significant event in terms of morphological change was the harbour engineering works of 1613AD which caused a reduction in spit volume of 11% through disruption of littoral drift patterns. The degree of morphological change caused by individual storm events is dependent upon antecedent beach levels, the combination of meteorological and tidal conditions and the state of the coastal defences. Predicted regional changes in sea-level and storminess are likely to cause landward retreat of the coastal planform and reduction in stable spit area. Along defended sections of the Great Yarmouth coast, narrowing of the inter-tidal zone may be expected.