Students visit Outer Banks for field work

ECU students in Dr. Nathan Richards’ maritime archaeology field school measure and inspect an old wooden rudder from a sailing vessel at the 1911 Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site in Rodanthe.  (Contributed photo)

By Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

East Carolina University students recently took their underwater archaeology training above ground as they examined maritime artifacts on the site of the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site & Museum.

ECU professor Dr. Nathan Richards took eight maritime studies graduate students to the Outer Banks for a month to practice archaeological techniques on shipwrecks found in near-shore environments along the coast. Richards is a faculty member in the Department of History, specializing in nautical archaeology with interest in maritime terrestrial sites.

The students collected data from the shipwrecks to create site plans and reports on a series of locations from Rodanthe to Southern Shores.

“Students used various pieces of ‘marine debris’ around Chicamacomico Life Saving station to practice archaeological drawing and photography techniques,” Richards said of the group’s one-day trip to the site.

“The students were tasked with accurately recording the details of a collection of deadeyes, as well as a rudder, rudder gudgeon, a hoist block and various fragments of ship structure. These diagnostic components of these shipwrecked or salvaged vessels contain information that may cast light upon the type of vessels wrecked in the area and salvaged by local people,” he said.

Richards added the students’ work may also “illuminate the processes of ship salvage following wrecking events and show us how people integrated shipwreck material into their lives and the economy.”

NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute are supporting this ECU field school.

The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site & Museum is located in Rodanthe and is open for visitors Monday through Friday through November.