Sketch by Honor Frost of buildings in Lebanon – MS 439 HFA/1/9/1/1

The Honor Frost Archive held in the Maritime Archaeology Special Collections at the University of Southampton Library provides a comprehensive and meticulously collated record of Honor Frost’s archaeological work. It includes significant material for her maritime projects in France, Sicily, Malta, Egypt, and in the eastern Mediterranean (Lebanon, Syria and Turkey), together with material relating to Honor’s research on stone anchors and photographic material recording her excavations and travels. Most importantly the archive has an especially complete record for the Marsala ship excavation.

Honor published and lectured prolifically, and the archive contains original drafts and offprints of all her key publications on maritime archaeology, together with a comprehensive set of drafts of lectures, c.1961-2007. Archaeological drawings and sketches from Lebanon and early ballet set designs from 1940 to the mid-1950s beautifully illustrate Honor Frost’s artistic skill.

A prolific letter writer, the archive contains a series of correspondence that Honor maintained with other key figures in the field of underwater archaeology, including Frédéric Dumas, Lucien Basch and Paul Adam. Due to her practice of keeping drafts or carbon copies of letters sent, there is often outgoing correspondence to supplement that of letters received.

The Foundation also offers the Honor Frost Archive Annual Visiting Fellowship Award which offers the opportunity to visit the Maritime Archaeology Special Collections to conduct research on a topic centred on the Honor Frost Archive. The Fellowship is awarded annually and aims to raise awareness of the HF Archive within the archaeological research community, to facilitate new research into the Southampton Maritime Archaeology Special Collections, and to disseminate the research outcomes to academic and non-academic audiences.

HFF Archive Workshop

On the 15th October 2019 the Foundation organised ‘Curating our own Heritage: Workshop on histories and archives of maritime archaeology’ at the Special Collections, Hartley Library. This workshop was intended to stimulate discussion about the development of a historically-informed strand to maritime archaeology as a discipline, practice and profession, rooted in secure and accessible archives and a scholarly approach to how and why maritime archaeology is the way it is. The following presentations were given:

  • Lucy Blue – HFF Perspective on archives and histories of maritime archaeology
  • Karen Robson – Special collections and opportunities for research
  • Antony Firth – Why study histories of maritime archaeology?
  • Amara Thornton – History of archaeology network
  • Claire Calcagno – Soundings – HFF oral history project
  • Lucy Blue – Writing Honor – HFF Biography
  • Claire Calcagno – Edgerton archive MIT
  • Peter Campbell –  Pioneering British Maritime Archaeology Projects in Italy: Perspectives from the British School at Rome archives

Maritime Archaeology Archives

Further archives belonging to Sean McGrail, Lucien Basch and Nicholas Flemming have now been added to the maritime archaeology archives at the University of Southampton, details can be found here. The Foundation plans to continue working with the Special Collections team to build on the maritime archaeology archives and is in the process of developing an initiative for further archives to be donated to the collection, if you would like to know more contact 

The Foundation supports an important oral history initiative on the history of maritime archaeology, viewed through the seminal contributions made by Honor Frost to the discipline. Since 2017 the Soundings Project team has been collecting testimonies, recollections and experiences from her friends and colleagues, across the years and across the continents. This repository of first-hand knowledge contributes to the increased understanding of how the discipline of archaeology, conducted under water and along coasts, evolved during pioneering years since the advent of SCUBA gave extended access to these regions.

The Soundings Project has initially focused on reaching out to members of the first and second generations of maritime archaeologists who knew and worked with Honor Frost. By sounding these depths of memory and experience, we are preserving vital history and creating a resource for the future.

Video and audio recordings and related transcripts are being housed within the Maritime Archaeology Special Collections at the Hartley Library, University of Southampton.

Dr Lucy Blue, Maritime Archaeological Director, HFF

Dr Claire Calcagno, Soundings Project Manager

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