Dr R Helen Farr

Maritime Archaeologist, University of Southampton

R Helen Farr

My name is Helen and I do archaeology underwater! I started out as an archaeologist working on land studying how people lived in the past. I love the adventure of excavating sites and finding ancient artefacts; it is really exciting when you realise that you are the first person to have seen or touched something in thousands of years!

I‘ve always been passionate about the sea and spent my spare time sailing and diving, so when I was choosing what to study I decided to combine my curiosity about the past with my love of the sea, hence maritime archaeology!

I am interested in the origins of seafaring and the shipwrecks that can be found on the sea floor, but maritime archaeology is not just about shipwrecks. Lots of the earth’s coasts have been flooded by rising seas and many very old archaeological sites are now preserved underwater. Studying environmental change and rising sea-levels in the past can also help us plan for sea-level rise in the future. This job combines so many things that I am interested in: learning about our past, our changing planet, and the science and technology that enables us to explore this.

Helen is our Under Pressure box champion.

I love being a scientist because...

I get to travel and to spend lots of time outside, on the beach or on/in the water. I also get to read lots, use some very cool pieces of high-tech engineering, and explore how people lived in the past.

The most awesome thing I have done so far is...

To hold the speed record as the fastest woman to pilot an underwater ROV (2000m under the sea surface). I believe someone may have beaten my record this year, but that just means I need to go faster next time!

My heroes are...

Honor Frost (a female pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology)

Advice I would give my 7 year old self...

Keep exploring!

At primary school my favourite thing to do was...

Go to the seaside and go beachcombing.

Join our Curious Community and get 10% off your first subscription!

Psst… we only use your email address to keep in touch and you can opt-out whenever you like! Find out more.