Sunken Secrets

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Archaeology Discover Centre
Underwater Archaeology Centre.jpg
The museum in the casemates of Fort Victoria.
Sunken Secrets is located in Isle of Wight
Sunken Secrets
Location of The Museum within the Isle of Wight
Established 1990
Location Fort Victoria, Isle of Wight, England
Coordinates 50°42′24″N 1°31′16″W / 50.706667°N 1.521111°W / 50.706667; -1.521111
Type Archaeology
Curator Katie Cambridge
Public transit access Yarmouth
Website Sunken Secrets

The Archaeology Discover Centre formerly Sunken Secrets, formerly the Underwater Archaeology Centre is a museum located in Fort Victoria on the Isle of Wight, England.

The museum is run by archaeologists based on the Isle of Wight. It is housed in five of the fort's former casemates. Since it was opened in 1990 the museum has been used to display exhibits recovered from several local shipwrecks and the submerged landscapes of the Solent. These include the wrecks of HMS Pomone, HMS Invincible, the Yarmouth Roads Wreck and Bouldnor Cliff. The museum also houses an exhibition about the history of Fort Victoria itself.

Like most attractions in the fort the museum only operates from Easter to autumn, during which time it opens daily and occasionally holds activity and community events which are advertised at the fort, on Twitter and in local press.


After the wreck of HMS Pomone was discovered at The Needles in 1969, the Isle of Wight Council funded a team to research and excavate the site.[1] In 1984 another wreck was discovered immediately offshore of Yarmouth and work began excavating that site as well.[1] In 1990 the Isle of Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology was founded and began operating a museum at Fort Victoria called the Maritime Heritage Exhibition. Several finds from the excavations were displayed in the museum, whilst others went to the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth and Bembridge Maritime Museum.[1]

In 1991 the Trust expanded into the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology, a charity which went on to investigate more maritime archaeology in the local area and discovered the site of Bouldnor Cliff in 1999.[2] The Trust refurbished the museum which was re-opened in 2006 as the Underwater Archaeology Centre.[3] In 2013 it was renamed Sunken Secrets. In 2017 the ownership of the centre passed into local hands.


Shipwrecks: The shipwrecks exhibition explores why there are so many wrecks in the Solent area, why wrecks are seen as acting as time capsules of the past, and displays finds from Trust excavations.[4] It includes the stories of HMS Pomone, HMS Invincible, the Yarmouth Roads Wreck (believed to be the Spanish Galleon Santa Lucia),[1] and other wrecks at the Needles and Alum Bay.[5]

Submerged landscapes: The submerged landscapes exhibits explain the history of the Solent as a dry river valley before rising sea levels flooded it and created the strait that exists today.[4] It focuses on the Trust's excavations at Bouldnor Cliff and includes artefacts recovered from the sea bed.[5]

History of Fort Victoria: Fort Victoria does not have a museum of its own, but an exhibition within Sunken Secrets details its history and its role in the defence of the Needles Passage.[5]

The museum also contains information about the actual practice of maritime archaeology.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Medland, p. 52
  2. ^ "Fight on to save Stone Age Atlantis". BBC. 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  3. ^ The Underwater Archaeology Centre (Plaque outside museum). Fort Victoria: The Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology. 2006. 
  4. ^ a b Burdett & Insole, p 113
  5. ^ a b c d "Sunken Secrets - Current Exhibitions". Maritime Archaeology Trust. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 


  • David Burdett & Allan Insole (1995). Discovering an Island - The roadside heritage of the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight Society/Island Books. ISBN 1-898198-12-8. 
  • Medland, J (2007). The Making of the Wight - An illustrated history of the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight Beacon Ltd. ISBN 978-1-904149-14-9. 

External links[edit]