Berit Mortlock 1 - You have to work upside down


    Berit joined the Mary Rose dive team in 1979. She was already a marine archaeologist and had worked on other underwater wreck sites as part of her PHD research. She joined the small team of full time archaeological supervisors. Their role was to guide and supervise the work of hundreds of volunteer divers.

    In the clip below Berit explains how she trained the volunteer divers to excavate underwater.

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    Extract Text (Duration01.40)

    She wanted me to work as an archaeological supervisor because the funding was short so they needed a small team of permanent staff and then, obviously, we were relying on the volunteers who came during the summer holidays, sort of volunteer divers, amateur divers but very keen enthusiasts.  And we would train them how... show them how to excavate underwater, how to work underwater on an archaeological site, because you have to work upside down, because you mustn't kneel on anything, because you don't know what's underneath the seabed that you are kneeling on and you can break that very easily.  So we had to lay scaffold poles across the site and you have to wrap your legs around that and work upside down. So it's very different to normal scuba diving you are used to.  And you are operating an airlift and you have to learn how to operate that carefully so you're not just hoovering up everything within reach, but you are wafting as we said, carefully, so that you would uncover anything fragile.  And I think if you go to the Museum [Mary Rose Museum] and you see the small artefacts that are there, you can think, oh, luckily that didn't go up the airlift because it could so easily have done, because the visibility is so... it was very, very bad.  So you're working in semi-darkness, you're operating quite a strong airlift with very fragile and sensitive artefacts around you.  So it was a challenge, but we impressed on everybody the importance, so not to go fast but to go carefully.

    You have to work upside down.

    01.40 mins - mp3 File

    You learnt to work by feel.

    0.29 mins - mp3 File

    What's your favourite item?

    0.59 mins - mp3 File

    It didn't shock me, but it made me pause.

    1.01 mins - mp3 File

    We were very much dependent on the current.

    1.23 mins - mp3 File

    Where was the site?

    0.27 mins - mp3 File