Rapid Archaeological Site Survey and Evaluation Banner, with a multibeam image of a wreck site on the Goodwin Sands.
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Rapid Archaeological Site Survey and Evaluation (RASSE)

Above: An animated introduction to RASSE; move your mouse over the image to re-start the animation. [link: alternative description].

The deployment of high-resolution sonar systems for archaeological investigations of submerged environments is a fast advancing field. Realising the enormous potential of these systems depends on developing optimum configurations for data gathering, and innovative approaches to data processing that will improve artefact recognition, seabed characterisation, and the measurement of diverse impacts on marine archaeological sites.

The Rapid Archaeological Site Survey and Evaluation (RASSE) project was a three-year research project funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF), administered by English Heritage and based at the University of St Andrews School of Geography and Geosciences.

For more information on the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, please check the link below: This link will open in a new window in your browser.

Link opening in new page: More about the Aggregates Levy.

Bottom right: Logos of English Heritage, who funded the project through the Aggregates levy, and The University of St Andrews, where the project has been based. Links to all participating institutions are provided from our links page.


The main aims of the project are to:

  • Optimise the potential of geophysical remote survey equipment for the rapid, detailed investigation of submerged archaeological sites and their immediate surroundings.
  • Establish the best configuration of acoustic instruments using a combination of backscatter (sidescan) and bathymetry information.
  • Provide heritage curators with a range of deliverables that will enhance the management of archaeological sites on a local and national basis.

In 2006, the team trialled a towable sonar head platform. The project has now completed and the final report is available. In addition, the team have developed some interactive animations of their work.

  • Attempt to pick out seabed items on moving multibeam and sidescan sonar traces, as we have done on the Plymouth Sound Test site.
  • Watch the sediment changes that have occurred between 2002-2006 on the dynamic wreck site of the Stirling Castle, Goodwin Sands.

Link to:Results page .

You can now download a movie file based on multibeam survey data and showing eroded sediment from the 'bowsprit' wreck on the Goodwin Sands (12.8Mb file).

Link to: RASSE library.

For more information, please contact us:

Link to:Contact page.

Shim. Logos of English Heritage, and the University of St Andrews, link to page with all participating organisations.
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