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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Wednesday, 8 September 2010 12:13 UK
Solent underwater trail charts wrecks and history
Wrecks are marked with yellow buoys in the Solent

A new trail has been launched to highlight the Solent's rich coastal heritage - both above and below the water.

Visitors on land can discover the information on conventional leaflets and interpretation panels.

However boats can sail to yellow buoys marking shipwrecks in the Solent. Calling a dedicated phone number relays a message about the wreck beneath them.

Divers can take the information on diving slates with them underwater.

Wreck sites

The New Forest National Park's Coastal Heritage project studied 51 miles (82km) of coastline between Southampton and the Dorset border and up to six nautical miles off-shore.

Thought to be the first in the UK to include shipwrecks in this way, the trail takes in four wrecks dating from 1881 through to 1978.

There is evidence of human activity along the Solent coast dating back 125,000 years.

The trail takes in prehistoric activity and also charts local industries from salt works to shipbuilding as well as smuggling and national defence.

"Window on the past"

James Brown, maritime archaeologist with the New Forest National Park Authority said: "Archaeology is a window on the past and underwater archaeology has the greatest potential to add the most information as it's relatively unexplored.


"By increasing people's understanding and enjoyment of the National Park's coastal heritage, we hope people will appreciate it more and want to care for it for future generations."

One buoy marks the site of the Serrana which was torpedoed by a German U-boat - one of 55 ships lost to enemy action off the Isle of Wight during World War I.

On the seabed the two boilers, the steam engine and the main stern gun can still be clearly seen.

Another buoy marks the location of a dredger which sunk while carrying a cargo of gravel in 1978. It has allowed archaeologists and divers to monitor how more modern ships deteriorate.

There are thought to be 75 wrecks on the seabed of the Solent.

The trail leaflet is available from New Forest tourist information centres, diving shops and on the New Forest National Park website.

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