The preservation of cultural heritage is safeguarded by many actors involved in maritime cultural heritage

The concept of what maritime cultural heritage means is very broad. It includes both built and archaeological cultural heritage, both on land and underwater. Also, due to the sheer breadth of the topic, there are many different experts in the field, from architects to building conservators, as well as from terrestrial to marine archaeologists.

Professionals from different disciplines contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage, research, knowledge sharing, and awareness-raising, according to their specific expertise. According to the Finnish Constitution (731/1999), the preservation of the cultural environment is a matter for everyone.

The Finnish Heritage Agency plays a leading role in maritime cultural heritage activities

The Finnish Heritage Agency is a significant cultural heritage agency in Finland, working in all of Finland's marine and river basins. Together with the provincial museums, the Cultural Environment Services department of the Finnish Heritage Agency is responsible for expert and official duties related to maritime cultural heritage.

The Cultural Environment Services department is involved in spatial planning, such as zoning, and is an expert in conservation issues and in guiding the restoration of protected buildings. The aim is also to provide information through various projects on the cultural environment and its protection, values, and opportunities.

The Finnish Heritage Agency is the only authority responsible for the protection of underwater cultural heritage. It organises and supervises the archaeological research required for protection and grants survey permits for archaeological excavations.

Marine archaeologists at work.

Marine archaeologists examine new finds and monitor known sites

The Cultural Environmental Services department has a team of marine archaeologists who carry out underwater fieldwork throughout Finland. Tasks include inspecting new finds, as well as monitoring known objects. Such finds often include historical shipwrecks.

It is common for marine archaeologists to cooperate in research projects with different agencies. Indeed, the team of marine archaeologists from the Cultural Environmental Services department also participates in the activities of different international projects.

Vessels participating in Vrouw Maria shipwreck research.

There is cooperation with several maritime actors

In the field of maritime archaeology, private consultants are now important producers of information. The parties responsible for civil engineering projects and water zoning commission them to undertake underwater cultural heritage inventories and studies. The Finnish Heritage Agency maintains a list of players in the field of archaeology and advises when needed for ordering marine archaeological work.

Moreover, underwater wreck diving enthusiasts and the Finnish Marine Archaeological Society also produce information on underwater cultural heritage. There are many active enthusiasts of maritime cultural heritage, and in particular maritime archaeology in Finland. The goal of the Finnish Heritage Agency is for these enthusiasts to respect the underwater remains and the information they contain and to influence the preservation of the sites by their actions.

Cultural heritage information is also provided by maritime institutions such as the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (VÄYLÄ), formerly known as the Finnish Transport Agency, which commissions extensive seafloor surveys. Other such institutions include Metsähallitus, as well as the Coast Guard units of the Finnish Border Guard in the Gulf of Finland and Western Finland. The Coast Guard also monitors protected wrecks in addition to its other tasks. All of the above actors are stakeholders and partners of the Finnish Heritage Agency.

The University of Helsinki has an Assistant Professorship of Marine Archaeology

The newest Assistant Professor of Marine Archaeology began his tenure at the University of Helsinki in Autumn 2018. In future, courses on marine archaeology are also expected to be launched within the field of Cultural Studies. The University of Helsinki is also a partner of the Finnish Heritage Agency.

Both official agencies and amateurs alike contribute to the protection of maritime cultural heritage

The Finnish Heritage Agency promotes the protection, sustainable repair, management and use of constructed maritime cultural heritage in cooperation with provincial and maritime museums, Metsähallitus, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the Defence Forces, environmental authorities, and other various associations. Associations and private citizens alike carry out valuable work of preserving the maritime architectural heritage and traditional vessels.

Restoration works of Finland's oldest daymark, located near Uusikaupunki.

 Find out more about actors in the field!