Exhibition: Two Shores - Living with the North Sea, Time and Tide Museum of Great Yarmouth Life until March 27 2011.
© Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service
The North Sea, the impressive stretch of water marking the southern tip of the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, has provided Britain and her cross-sea neighbours in Northern Europe with valuable access to commerce and conquest for centuries.
A busy shipping lane and a famously rich fishing ground, it has been the epicentre of geological, geographical and political machinations that stretch from the rise of the Vikings through to the great sea battles of World War Two.
In the later 20th century the pace of change heightened to take in new technologies, mineral discoveries and green energies.
Nowhere is this developing relationship better understood than in East Anglia, whose people have harvested the fruits of the North Sea region for thousands of years.
A new exhibition at the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth is exploring this relationship between man and ocean by looking at the working coastal life of the region and the connections with neighbours across the North Sea in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Part of the Maritime Heritage East Partnership, which unites more than 44 museums on the East coast in projects and exhibitions, Two Shores recounts the experiences of people who make their living from the North Sea – in the oil and fishing industries, leisure and tourism, ports and ferries.
More than 40 new oral history recordings collected from East Anglia and the Continent form the core of an exhibition which also includes maritime objects, "tools of the trade", paintings, photographs, maps and letters.
Interviewees include offshore workers whose jobs are changing with the development of new industries like wind farms and fishermen who reveal how their work has been affected by declining fish stocks. The insights of marine archaeologists help people to understand the geography of the North Sea and the region’s physical connections with mainland Europe.
Ancient objects include prehistoric North Sea hand axes recovered from the ocean floor and a Mesolithic harpoon head. Fossil bones are on hand to remind visitors of the long and fascinating history of these two shores.