HMS Invincible was made a Protected Wreck site in 1980. This meant that the Archaeologists from the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust (MAST) could not excavate her without ensuring that there was a home for the things that were raised from her as part of the excavation and archaeological research.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy agreed to become that home. Essentially, parts of HMS Invincible, once conserved, will be coming back to her home port over 260 years after she left.
From the sea bed to the land
The incredible hidden world of maritime archaeology and historic wrecks is really only seen by a few divers, not by most people. MAST and the National Museum of the Royal Navy hoped to reveal that hidden world, bringing the seabed to the land. They applied to National Lottery Heritage Fund and were awarded £360,000 in 2018 and the Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 project was born.
Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 – a travelling exhibition
This is an engaging project and travelling exhibition that reaches out to a wide range of audiences. An active volunteer programme has;
- helped to prepare archaeological objects to be incorporated into museum collections and the exhibition
- researched the incredible stories behind Invincible, from her capture to her sinking
- helped to prepare an exhibition which will open in Portsmouth at the National Museum of the Royal Navy and then later travel to Chatham Historic Dockyard
- helped to reach out to engage audiences with the scientific archaeological excavation of Invincible at public events and in schools
The volunteers have been working so hard to make Diving Deep a success that they completed over 750 days of volunteering within the first two years of a three year project.
Diving Deep during a pandemic
The Diving Deep project is such a success that even a pandemic has failed to knock it off its course. The volunteers and staff simply began to complete the preparation for the exhibition online. In fact much research and writing has been done online because the volunteers are not just local to Portsmouth, they come from places as far away as Poole and even Canada. Audience outreach work has been done via online talks using props found in the home, toilet roll wigs to explain the wig curlers found on the wreck, a tin of beans to explain a the low oxygen anaerobic environment under the sea bed. The continuation of the project even during lockdown has meant that the Diving Deep: Invincible 1744 exhibition will successfully open at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in October 2020 and then open at Chatham Historic Dockyard in April 2022.