Archaeology resources

Collections covering both sides of the Shoreline!

All the remnants of maritime culture on land as well as underwater - the pieces of rust in an envelope that our archivist finds - tucked there by a surveyor many moons ago; intriguing wrecks along the foreshore, and the striking solidity of a surviving dry-dock - all of these things when joined together form a wonderful and colourful story of our global maritime and industrial heritage.
Through this resource page we hope to highlight the richness and diversity of resources available for researching maritime archaeology, both using our own and other collections. Find out more by catching up with our webinar Shoreline: from dry-docks to shipwrecks  
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, as that would be an almost impossible feat! We have however included some of the main references that we are aware of and make use of ourselves and would welcome any additional resource details that you would like to share with us.


Heritage & Education Centre (HEC) online resources 


Lloyd's Register of Ships

Links to historic volumes of the Register Book which are fully accessible and searchable online. Also via the Internet Archive.

Casualty Returns

Total losses of ocean going merchant ships over 100 gross tonnes, available to view for the years 1890-2000. 

Jordan's Map of the Thames

In 1882, Lloyd's Register Surveyor Charles Jordan compiled this in-depth map to allow him to better navigate the busy London shipyards.  

Ship Plan and Survey Report Collection

Covering the period from 1834 to circa 1960, in the majority of cases these consist of a first and last survey report for vessels – the last being for a ship that was disclassed by Lloyd's Register or being a report of its demise (so loss, wreck, or if broken up and so on).

Interesting or unusual survey reports were sometimes kept, like those where the ship was converted or had suffered major damage and subsequent repairs. Some ship plans were also retained.

From Woolwich to the Web

Explore a journey of digitisation in our online exhibition to see how we are tackling the extensive ship plan and survey report collection - with an estimated 1.25 million items.

Instructions to exclusive surveyors

These help us to get a better understanding of the type of work that our surveyors would have been doing and include some very useful things like the procedure followed in the testing and marking of anchors and chain cables.

Research guides

Bitesized guides to help you to interpret and understand the ship plan and survey report collection.

Marine dictionary 

Diagrams and descriptions of different rigs are included in "From Keel to Truck" - a marine dictionary in French, English & German by Henri Paasch (Antwerp, 1885), Lloyd's Register surveyor.


New HEC resource pages coming soon!


Lloyd’s Register’s Historic Rules & Regulations

Composite Ship Rules


Other online links


Shipwreck Index of the British Isles

Started by Richard and Bridget Larn in the 1970s and representing a unique archive and a lifetime of research. The entire content of Larn's six-published volumes has now been integrated into an electronic version with an instant mapping capability. This content has been extended and improved over many years to produce the current Shipwrecks UK resource. Find out more on Infosheet 11 below.

British Council for Archaeology

A great Archaeology Resources Hub listing loads of online resources, events and activities. 

Penarth Dock

A brilliant project to capture the heritage of the Penarth Docks and make the research 'free and accessible for all to use’. The above image is from their site.

Armchair archaeology with CITiZAN

As the blog rightly highlights, anyone can look into their local history and archaeology.

Nautical Archaeology Society

Their mission is to research, record and protect our threatened underwater and coastal heritage for the benefit of everyone.


The online catalogue of archaeology, buildings, industrial and maritime heritage in Wales.

Grace's Guide

Dedicated to publishing the history of industry in the UK and elsewhere, with a brief history of the companies, products and people who were instrumental in industry. It provides an overview of topics and points researchers to the source materials so they can find further information.

Purton Hulks

The largest ships' graveyard in mainland Britain. It contains some unique examples of vessels beached beside the River Severn, between 1909 and c.1965. Today the hulks are in a state of considerable decay.

Big Anchor Project 

A project to record historic anchors and learn about their place in our maritime history.


HEC Information Sheets