Launch of virtual shipwreck!

Wednesday 12 September 2001

An interactive CD-Rom allowing primary school pupils to find out about sunken historic shipwrecks is to be launched in a Fife school today (Thursday 13 September).

“Shipwreck!”, the brainchild of University of St Andrews marine archaeologist Dr Colin Martin and his wife Dr Paula Martin, takes children back in time through an examination of ancient shipwrecks and is largely based on 62-year old Dr Colin Martin’s long career investigating underwater archaeological sites off Scotland and Ireland.

The project, jointly funded by the University and the Edinburgh-based Millennium project SCRAN (Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network), covers five main themes – Life on Board, Work at Sea, Ships and Cargoes, War at Sea and Underwater Archaeology.

Stunning underwater photography, pictures of items recovered from wrecks and individual histories of each ship are complemented by diagrams and atmospheric audio/video clips, making the CD a valuable reference and teaching tool. It can be supplemented by images already accessible via SCRAN under the title “Scotland’s Historic Shipwrecks”, also created by the Martins (see The CD is accompanied by teachers’ notes outlining various experiments and discussion topics ranging from the hardships faced on board to the effect of warfare on ship design. It also encourages users to create their own archaeological “sites.”

During its development, the CD was tested by Alan Gordon, a teacher at Crail Primary School where it will be launched in the presence of around 20 pupils today.

Dr Martin joined the University of St Andrews in 1973 after a career with the army and as a photojournalist. He has since become one of the country’s leading underwater archaeologists. His passion for historic shipwrecks is shared by his wife Paula – also an historian and archaeologist – and sons Peter and Edward who, every summer, spend several months working on the excavation and conservation of the remains of a mid-17th century warship, the Swan, off the coast of Mull. Edward, a professional photographer, is now a staff member of SCRAN.

The Martins’ aim has been to combine entertainment with learning. Colin said, “As well as being great fun, the programme covers everything from simple mechanics and geometry to physics and biology. Seeing these subjects being used in detective work of bringing up long-sunken ships back to life makes them much more interesting than they often appear in schoolbooks. Users can dive down to a wreck site, share with us the excitement of discovery and learn what it was like to be a crew member on a sailing ship, what food you ate and what you did in your spare time.”

SCRAN is an on-line service giving access to a massive range of cultural resources for the 21st Century. Funded by the Millennium Commission, SCRAN was launched in 1996 with an ambitious remit to digitise and preserve Scottish human history and material culture. It now provides schools, colleges, universities and individual web users at home and around the world with the wealth of our nation. Many of SCRAN’s resources have been used to create interactive curriculum CD-Roms. “Shipwreck!” is an exciting addition to the SCRAN catalogue and was enthusiastically received during demonstrations at education shows earlier this year.


NOTE TO EDITORS – The launch will take place in Alan Gordon’s Primary 6 class of Crail Primary School, Crail, Fife at 9.30am on Thursday 13 September 2001. Drs Colin and Paula Martin will represent the University while their son Edward will represent SCRAN. Together with approx. 20 children, they will be available for interviews/photographs.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email [email protected] Ref: shipwreck!/standrews/chg/11sep2001

For more information about SCRAN, please contact Neil Fraser or Conal Anderson on 0131 662 1211, fax 0131 662 1511 or email [email protected] or [email protected].


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