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Nikolaev, I. R. (2020). Maritime Cultural Heritage: The History of the Formation and Development of the Concept on the Example of Great Britain. Heritage of Centuries, (1), 26-35.
Cultural Heritage Abroad: Preservation and Promotion Practices

Maritime Cultural Heritage: The History of the Formation and Development of the Concept on the Example of Great Britain

  • © Nikolaev Ivan R. Lecturer-Researcher, Cultural and Historical Center “Svetoch”, Moscow, Russian Federation,


The article is devoted to the study of the history of the formation and functioning of the concept “maritime and underwater cultural heritage”, as well as to the analysis of the evolution of values invested in heritage objects related to maritime culture. The study is based on materials reflecting the history of the study of maritime heritage in the UK. The aim of the work is to determine the stages in the formation of a systematic scientific understanding of the maritime and underwater cultural heritage in the UK and the process of establishing the corresponding scientific concept. The basis for the author’s research was the study of British scientists, covering the period from the mid-17th century until now. The main attention is paid to underwater cultural heritage as one of the main components of maritime heritage. The author identifies three main periods in the history of the formation of ideas about the maritime cultural heritage of Great Britain. The middle of the 17th century was taken as a starting point, which was the heyday of the era of antiquarianism. Thanks to the active colonial policy and the wars accompanying it, many ships were wrecked, and subsequently a large number of sailors searched for sunken treasures. The reason for this search was by no means a desire to preserve history, but a commercial gain. The milestone that determined the emergence of historical interest in maritime heritage sites is 1836: the year the ship Mary Rose was discovered. The subsequent period (up to the second half of the 20th century) is characterized by the development of historical research in relation to the underwater cultural heritage, but without a sound scientific-methodological component. The third period begins in 1976 after a publication of Keith Muckelroy, a maritime archaeologist, about the formation of an underwater archaeological complex, and after further developments, including the creation of the term “maritime archaeology”. The development of the methodology, the conceptualization and updating of critical approaches to historical phenomena have led to the formation of a modern scientific view on the problems of interpretation of maritime cultural heritage. The revealed characteristics of the analyzed concept allowed the author to propose a version of its interpretation, characteristic of European countries. Maritime cultural heritage is defined as a combination of objects of tangible and intangible cultural heritage associated with all aspects of navigation and human development of water spaces.

Keywords: maritime heritage, underwater cultural heritage, United Kingdom, maritime culture, shipwreck, paleolandscape, Keith Muckelroy, maritime archaeology