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Shipwrecked Heritage by Dr Hayley Roberts

Royal Commission Online Lecture

Shipwrecked Heritage: Values, Threats and Legal Tensions by Dr Hayley Roberts
Date and time: 27 Oct 2022, 18:30 BST
Location: Online
*This talk will be in English.

The seabed is the world’s largest museum. Rising tides, floods and natural disasters have devastated and submerged cities and civilisations over the millennia, leaving their traces on the ocean floor. The sea has also long been a way to connect humans, facilitating trade, commerce and migration, and thanks to a combination of bad weather, poor design and navigational errors, wrecked ships have also become a significant part of our underwater cultural heritage. Shipwrecks are uniquely informative in that they are time-capsules, a snapshot of the moment in time of their sinking. The cold waters of the ocean generally tend to preserve shipwrecks, enabling us to discover knowledge of ancient trading and seafaring, produce, migration, social relationships, and behaviours that may otherwise have remained unknown.

Shipwrecks did not become a regulatory issue until the twentieth century when technological developments enabled underwater exploration, opening shipwrecks to human interference. Submersibles can now enable travel to the deepest known part of the ocean and some shipwrecks may be accessible by snorkel, or even lie in intertidal waters. Virtually every shipwreck in the world is now within our reach. This means that the governance and protection of historic shipwrecks has become a significant regulatory challenge in recent years. This is particularly intensified by the fact that shipwrecks have diverse values that go beyond their status as historical and archaeological objects, and these values may create significant complexities and complications where they are in conflict.

This talk will explore the various values of shipwrecks and explain how many of these values may be threatened, also briefly looking at some of the legal tensions and challenges created when the values that we assign to historic wrecks are in conflict with each other.

Dr. Hayley Roberts is Senior Lecturer in Public International Law at Bangor University and is Vice Chair of the Board of Commissioners for the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales. Her research interests mainly relate to the international law of the sea, particularly underwater cultural heritage and climate change. Her most recent grant-funded project examined marine cultural heritage as a climate adaptation priority, and she is currently writing a monograph entitled State-owned Shipwrecks and International Law, to be published by UWP in 2023. Dr. Roberts has also been appointed to the UK National Decade Committee for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Shipwrecked Heritage: Values, Threats and Legal Tensions by Dr Hayley Roberts
Date and time: 27 Oct 2022, 18:30 BST
Location: Online
*This talk will be in English.

This free lecture will be delivered via Zoom and the invitation will be sent to you once you have booked your place. Please don’t forget to download Zoom if you haven’t already!

Tickets will be limited and must be booked in advance.

Please reserve one ticket per household.


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