Shipwreck film nominated for archaeology ‘Oscar’

Published Tuesday 21 February 2012

A film about the shipwrecks in the Solent has been short-listed for an award at The Archaeology Channel’s International Film and Video Festival in Oregon, America.

‘Shipwrecks of the Western Solent’ is a 28 minute film investigating five different shipwrecks in a busy shipping lane in southern England; the Ceres, Fenna, SS War Knight, SS Serrana and MV Margaret Smith.

The film was made by award-winning underwater cameraman Michael Pitts in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority for the New Forest Coastal Heritage project.* 

‘Making the film wasn’t as easy as it sounds,’ said Michael Pitts. ‘Maritime archaeology is full of challenges and none more than on the south coast. If anyone has been across the Solent on the Isle of Wight ferry and looked in the waters they will have noticed that they are not crystalline.

‘It took a lot of hard work and after the initial disappointments we soon learnt to dive the right tides and with the knowledge and expertise of our skipper, we finally had enough footage to put the film together.’

James Brown from the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The New Forest has a vast coastal history and the aim of the film was to capture a snapshot of this. With the risk of rising sea level and the threat of climate change it is important that we start working on a detailed record of what lies beneath the Solent. Making a film seemed like a logical part of recording this work, as well as opening the subject up to new and wider audiences. We are delighted to have been shortlisted for an award.’

Richard Pettigrew, President and Executive Director of the Archaeological Legacy Institute, said: ‘We congratulate the makers of this film. The quality of this year’s film entrants was extremely high. We received 90 entries from 22 countries and we only short-list 27 films.’

The film and video festival will run from the 8-12 May. For more information visit

To buy your copy of the film go to


Notes to Editors:

*New Forest Coastal Heritage project

The New Forest is the most densely populated national park, and this has inevitably left various marks on the coast. The coast is not a barrier or boundary to human endeavour, rather an extension of the terrestrial resource: a richly varied area that has been managed and exploited over time.

In 2009 the New Forest National Park Authority with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the Crown Estate, Hampshire County Council and Exxon Mobil based at Fawley set up the Coastal Heritage Project.

The project recorded, promoted and encouraged protection of the huge variety of archaeology found along the New Forest coast and worked to ensure long term protection for the enjoyment of future generations.

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

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