Call for volunteers as HMS Invincible excavation wins funding boost

Divers uncovering the mysteries of HMS Invincible. Picture: Michael Pitts/Pascoe Archaeology Services
Divers uncovering the mysteries of HMS Invincible. Picture: Michael Pitts/Pascoe Archaeology Services
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A CALL for volunteers has been issued as the excavation of a naval warship that sank in the Solent more than 250 years ago has been given a funding boost.

The Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust and The National Museum of the Royal Navy have been awarded a £360,000 Heritage Lottery Fund for the continued excavation of HMS Invincible in a £2m project launched in 2017.

Now a volunteer programme is being set up in Portsmouth to record new findings, research artefacts for digital resources and help prepare exhibitions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The Heritage Lottery grant will fund a three-year project of events, including cutting edge digital resources and major exhibitions, which aim to take the stories from the sea bed and the dive boat to land.

Director of heritage at the museum, Matthew Sheldon, said: ‘Seeing the technologies which the project’s archaeologists and dive team use to understand this amazing wreck has been fascinating – almost better than being there.

‘I’m really looking forward to our team now sharing these with people inside and outside the museum.’

Michelle Roffe, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: ‘We are delighted to see this volunteering project to excavate one of the most important shipwrecks of our time get underway.

‘Invincible is hugely significant, being the most complete, and well preserved warship from the mid-18th century.

‘Thanks to National Lottery players, the urgency to progress with this project can be addressed, whilst involving a fantastic team of enthusiastic volunteers and hopefully inspiring new audiences to learn about this valuable history.’

Invincible, built by the French in 1744 and captured by the Royal Navy in 1747, sank in the Solent in 1758.

Her special design, unique lines and 74-gun capacity were copied and her class became the backbone of the Royal Navy’s fleet right up to the end of the sailing navy.

To register your interest in volunteering opportunities, email volunteering@nmrn.org.uk.