Unpath'd Waters (also UNPATH) is an ambitious AHRC-funded project which seeks to make marine archaeological and heritage records accessible for the first time across all four UK nations and open them to the world.

It is a major part of the Towards A National Collection initiative, focusing on developing closer integration of marine and maritime collections in the UK in terms of shared metadata standards, greater interoperability and joined-up collection access between different institutions, ranging from government agencies to individual collectors.

Taking advantage of the latest technological developments, including those in artificial intelligence and virtual reality, UNPATH will devise new ways of searching across these collections while inviting the public to co-design ways of exploring the archives in order to uncover previously untold stories and new questions to guide future research. This will:

  • Extend scholarly and public access beyond the physical boundaries of Britain’s rich marine heritage
  • Deliver cutting-edge research that tells new stories and makes new connections across collections
  • Develop and test new research-driven public-facing outputs
  • Create innovative virtual modes of accessing integrated collections to reach new and diverse audiences

The National Maritime Museum is a key partner on the project and is supporting the Museum of London Archaeology in the values-setting and audience-mapping activities. Other project partners with whom we are currently working closely include a diverse range of institutions such as the Glasgow School of Art and Wessex Archaeology.

As part of our involvement, we have engaged a part-time Research Associate who will be working closely with his counterparts in our Work Package and in other UNPATH streams as the project progresses. The Museum benefits from pre-established links of both an informal and formal nature with a number of organisations with a shared interest in UNPATH and provides an established link to the UK Maritime Heritage Forum and the Maritime Heritage Network.

The rich and varied nature of the datasets, archival records and objects held by the Museum are of benefit too, as they make this institution an ideal training ground for researchers supporting UNPATH.

UNPATH commenced in December 2021, and will run for a planned period of three years.

For more details please see the project’s website: Unpath'd Waters - Historic England


Header image: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Gibson's of Scilly Shipwreck Collection