Archaeology

Celebrating 16 years at the forefront of underwater archaeology and diving in Ireland

ADCO – The Archaeological Diving Company Ltd – was founded in 1999 to offer a specialist service in marine, freshwater, and underwater archaeology to the development and research sectors in Ireland; at a time when the State authorities in Ireland recognized the requirement for archaeological resolution underwater, to complement the long-standing requirement for resolution on land.

Underwater Archaeology is not just about diving and the sub-tidal environment. It includes the adjacent foreshore and associated land masses. ADCO’s approach captures an ‘amphibious’ vision of maritime archaeology. We are equally capable on land as we are on water, and see the two spheres as integrated and related.

Since 1999, ADCO has become Ireland’s premier archaeological consultancy in Marine and Underwater Archaeology, and we continue to deliver the highest quality of service and expertise. Our team is made up of experienced professionals. Our archaeologists include medievalists and underwater archaeologists who are high academic achievers and experienced in research and development-led work across Ireland, the UK and continental Europe. Our teams have worked closely together since the company was founded and deliver an efficient, safe, cost-effective and detailed resolution to projects that take place in often challenging and dynamic marine and freshwater environments.

We recognise the critical input that marine professionals from other disciplines have to contribute to the success of archaeological projects, and we work closely with experienced third-parties to augment our skills when necessary. This ensures that ADCO can offer the fullest range of services, from state-of-the-art seabed and structural survey, through monitoring and excavation, to reporting, conservation and archiving.

Our archaeological services include:

The inhouse expertise of ADCO’s team reflects particular strengths in medieval and post-medieval archaeology; foreshore, freshwater, lake and landscape archaeology; shipwreck archaeology; ports and harbour development archaeology; and archaeological training (terrestrial and marine).

ADCO has been successful in winning research grants to develop innovative approaches to maritime and underwater archaeology.

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Environmental assessment is an integral part of the planning process that establishes a detailed baseline of information about a project area as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that informs planning decisions.

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Marine geophysical survey is a rapidly developing and changing field. Fundamentally it is concerned with providing detailed images of the seabed and the underlying sedimentary and rock layers.

A suite of different techniques is used to capture the detail. Each technique has its particular merits. No one is entirely sufficient in its own right, but used in combination the techniques make it possible to construct useful insight.

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The archaeologist’s ability to survey acoustically known underwater sites takes a significant step forward with the deployment of the sector-scan sonar; a device that is easy to deploy and provides metrically accurate data comparable to terrestrial 3D laser scanning.

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The foreshore between the High Water Mark (HWM) and the Low Water Mark (LWM) remains one of the most unexplored landscapes from an archaeological perspective and merges the transition between underwater and land-based archaeology. It is a dynamic environment, prone to extreme weather events which inevitably present opportunities for new features to become exposed. Inter-tidal survey sheds some light upon this largely overlooked landscape and represents the means by which foreshore features are recorded.

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ADCO’s ability to undertake comprehensive underwater survey and assessment within a wide range of submerged environments is a particular strength. The company has a proven track record of delivering reliable, high-quality data, often from challenging environments with little or no visibility.

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Archaeological monitoring of construction projects is a requirement of modern planning, whether on land or at sea. It is a protocol devised to facilitate the observation of material of archaeological significance during the development process. ADCO’s archaeologists have played a key role in identifying and recovering material of significance.

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ADCO was appointed to monitor the dredging activity associated with the landfall for the GAS 2025 Irish Sea Interconnector pipeline as it approached the east coast at Gormanston, Co. Meath.

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ADCO provides an unrivalled level of reporting, consistently exceeding the requirements and expectations of our customers. We are committed to full academic peer-review publication, while at the same time recognising the importance of the promotion of this information in more publicly accessible media.  ADCO applies rigorous editing standards to ensure accurate, informed, readable text and illustration.

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