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Forton Lake Archaeology Project 2009

Exploring the maritime heritage of Gosport, Hampshire

Recording bow section.jpg
Dave plotting record.JPG


The Forton Lake Archaeology Project 2009 was set up in January of that year with the aim of recording, cataloguing and researching a selection of wrecks located on the shores of Forton Lake, a tidal inlet in Gosport, Hampshire (see the 'About Forton Lake' section, below).

This was the third archaeological project to take place at Forton Lake; in 1997, a member of the Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA) took photographs and recorded basic measurements of five prominent vessels, and between 2006 and 2008 the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) joined forces with the HWTMA in the 'Forton Lake Archaeology Project'.

The fieldwork, research and subsequent results of this project provided the foundations for an independent follow-up project, which I launched in January 2009 under the name, 'Forton Lake Archaeology Project 2009'. 

The project team consisted of myself and four others, all amateur archaeologists who had gained experience in the field through our participation in the 2008 season of the NAS/HWTMA project and our collective passion for maritime archaeology. Using the datum offset surveying method to create drawn records of each hulk, we focused our efforts on five sites in particular: a motor fishing vessel, a Second World War motor minesweeper, a clinker-built boat of unknown origin, a possible motor torpedo boat, and a small metal vessel on the north shore, also recording for the first time a wooden post structure on the south shore which may be the remains of a jetty or pontoon.

Planning for the project was completed by June 2009, and fieldwork took place between 20 June and 2 September. The written and sketched records produced during that summer of work are presented in this website.

Thanks for taking the time to visit, and please feel free to contact me with any comments.

Best wishes,

Daniel Karmy

Co-ordinator, Forton Lake Archaeology Project 2009

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Archaeological Sketch

About Forton Lake

Forton Lake, known locally as 'Forton Creek', is a tidal inlet off Portsmouth Harbour, situated in the town of Gosport.

In use since at least the 17th century, when a tide mill operated on the western side of the lake, and possibly for several centuries prior with the presence of a brick kiln, a clay quarry and a lime kiln, Forton Lake is home to thirty-five hulked vessels of varying shapes, sizes and purposes. Most of these owe their condition to a boatyard which was run by local resident Fred Watts and was operational on the south shore between the late 1930s and its closure in 1959.

The most prominent of the Forton Lake wrecks in historical terms is perhaps the former Gosport Ferry VADNE, which served the people of Gosport and Portsmouth as they travelled across the harbour between 1939 and 1965; the largest vessel, the former minesweeper MMS 293, saw active service during the Second World War with the Expeditionary Force of the Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief, and was brought to the lake in 1950, sold to the Watts boatyard.

The lake has been a place of interest among locals for many decades, but it has only been since the turn of the millennium that the archaeological significance of the area has been investigated and a comprehensive record made publicly available.

Even in the present day, the fleet of wrecks at Forton Lake continues to grow, with two more prominent vessels, formerly berthed at the Maritime Workshop boatyard on Ferrol Road at the western side, being beached in 2014 and 2015 respectively. 

While any commercial operations have long since ceased, the lake continues to be used for leisure activities such as angling, kayaking and creative photography.

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