The Solent Forum

Working in parnership for the future

Our Heritage

The exact origins of the name Solent are lost in the mists of time, but it is thought that it may be a bird place-name reflecting the congregations of the Northern Gannet or Solan Goose around the coast. The first recorded use of the name Soluente appears on a goatskin document in the early 8th century AD, scribed by a Northumbrian monk. The next reference is in the use of the name Solentan in a Saxon document. The word Solent is not recorded in the Domesday Book.

The Solent's historical and archaeological sites are one of its most important assets, and represent a nationally significant resource of buildings, landscapes and artefacts on land and underwater.

There are three particular aspects which are of interest:

The archaeological resource has a continuity that takes it from land through the intertidal zone and out to sea. This is shown by relic prehistoric landscapes, where contemporary features survive on both dry land and the sea bed. It can also be seen in the maritime cultural landscape where ship wrecks, their ports and associated industries may be represented by archaeological remains and historic buildings.


Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (RCZAS)

Historic England seeks to identify and protect historic sites through a series of regional or sub-regional Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (RCZASs ) and funding thematic projects that seek to increase understanding of particular sites or classes of site on the coast.

It is hoped that regular monitoring of the coast (for example, following storms) will be addressed by the Coastal and Inter-Tidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN) project, set up by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). This aims to train and enable an army of volunteer ‘citizans’ to monitor and record sites newly revealed or at risk of being destroyed by coastal erosion. The project is supported financially by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Crown Estate and the National Trust, and through advice and help-in-kind by Historic England.

Shipshape South 

Shipshape South acts as a focal point bringing together a number of existing facilities and services in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex, including the ship/boat repair/conservation expertise and facilities in the Portsmouth Naval Base and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard; the Maritime Workshops in Gosport; the conservation expertise within Hampshire County Council Museum Services; the work of the Wolfson Unit, Southampton Institute and the wider work of the universities in Southampton and Portsmouth, as well as a range of vessels on the National Register of Historic Vessels.