A small hard-working consulting business based in St Andrews, Scotland. Established in 1996, Rovarch is a pioneer in the field of deep-water marine archaeology.
The key to Rovarch’s success is due to Neil Cunningham Dobson, founder and director. Neil is one of a handful of uniquely talented scientists in the world who have successfully conducted ground-breaking archaeology in the challenging frontier of our planet’s deep waters.
Neil Cunningham Dobson
Founder and Director


Neil has more experience viewing shipwreck sites through Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) cameras than any other archaeologist in the world. Neil brings over 40 years of experience in the marine industry (Merchant Navy Deck Officer, Stability Officer on various oil rigs, offshore survival instructor/examiner, HSE part III commercial diver, IMCA ROV pilot) and impressive skills in planning and implementing deep-ocean archaeological investigations and salvage operations. He is one of only very few archaeologists in the world who have successfully conducted archaeology in deep-water.


Neil has worked on scores of shipwreck sites and supervised archaeological work on many high profile projects, including the SS Republic, “Black Swan”, HMS Victory, SS Gairsoppa and SS Central America projects and many other major projects in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.


Neil researches and writes archaeological reports, papers and other publications based on his client’s captivating discoveries. His publications include a series of research papers featured in Odyssey Marine Exploration’s archaeological volumes Oceans Odyssey. Neil also presents lectures and presentations at his local university and at various archaeological conferences and museums around the world.


Deep-water shipwreck investigations attract word-wide media attention and Neil work continues to be the subject of many articles in newspapers, journals and TV shows all over the world. This exposure allows him to spread the message of the significance of deep-water exploration and the importance of marine archaeology in understanding our maritime past. Neil particularly enjoys his involvement in TV documentaries as “The People’s Arch”’ and has starred in National Geographic, History Channel, PBS and Channel 5 shows about the various shipwrecks he has investigated. In 2008 he was one of the main stars in a Discovery Channel 12 part series Called Treasure Quest. Future TV shows and media work are in the pipeline and recently Neil was interviewed about the SS Gairsoppa for the BBC Coast Show.


When Neil is not at sea, travelling or researching and writing he has a busy home life in St Andrews, where his seafaring ancestors have lived for over 250 years.


Neil is very involved with his local community. He has just retired from serving 23 years as a member of the St Andrews Coastguard Rescue Team. He is a Trustee of St Andrews Trust and their archaeological advisor. Neil also serve as a councillor on the St Andrews Community Council. He also serves as the National Boat Handling Co-ordinator for the Sub Aqua Association. Neil’s hobbies are varied and include walking, beach-combing, antiques, art, DIY, cooking and sampling real ale, good wine and food.

Personal Summary



  • Deep-water archaeological investigations and excavations

  • Shipwreck research

  • Project management

  • Report writing

  • Academic papers

  • Presentations

  • Lecturing

  • Media and TV

  • Offshore survival training

The name Rovarch reflects Neil being an ROV-Archaeologist and a Roving-Archaeologist



  • M.Litt Maritime Studies, University of St Andrews

  • IMCA ROV Pilot Certification

  • HSE Part III Commercial Diver – SCUBA/Surface Supplied

  • Sub Aqua Association, Sport Diving Instructor

  • Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) Tutor

  • Associate member Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

  • NVQ Skills Trainer/Assessor Award (C21, D32)

  • Certificate of Offshore Survival Technology, Robert Gordons University

  • OPITO Approved Offshore Survival instructor/Examiner

  • Qualified Merchant Navy Seaman

  • HM Coastguard, 23 years Coastguard Rescue Officer



  • Multi-skilled

  • Professional

  • Articulate

  • Flexible attitude

  • Determined

  • Enquiring

  • Enthusiastic

  • Thorough

  • Consummate professional

  • Talented

  • Diligent

  • Intuitive

  • Engaging


"I feel my greatest strengths are firstly my strong commitment to providing professional services to my clients. Secondly, my wide range of practical maritime knowledge, skills and experience allow me to foresee challenges and problems that may be encountered and to provide solutions based on the ‘big picture”. Thirdly, my unique ability to make science, history and archaeology understandable, interesting and fun".