A RENOWNED shipwreck diver from west Wales is to stage a series of presentations to help finance a project to locate the hidden treasures of the sea off the Pembrokeshire coast.

James Hedley Phillips believes there are numerous burial sites dating back thousands of years at locations that are now underwater.

The local sea level was once as much as 20 metres (70 feet) below its present height and thousands of hectares of now underwater land were occupied by ancient man.

Mr Phillips has been diving for 50 years and says he has personally located more than 30 previously unknown ships that sunk off the notoriously dangerous coast.

Now, his attention has turned to what look like rock formations that may have been arranged as burial sites dating back 6,000 years and more.

"Neolithic and megalithic burial sites have been identified at dozens of locations in Wales.

"Many of them are in the mountains but there is a striking number along the coast, particularly in west Wales.

"It is logical that there would have been similar activity on land now covered by a rising sea level," he said.

Mr Phillips, who lives near Haverfordwest, is the author of Pembrokeshire Trilogy:Tales of the Sea, in which he detailed a history of shipwrecks off the coast, especially off St Davids and in the Ramsey Sound.

During more than 3,000 dives he has investigated hundreds of wrecks, and in some cases managed to recover historical artefacts, and used the knowledge gained to produce the Pembrokeshire Shipwreck Chart, perhaps the most authoritative guide to vessels lying on the seabed.

Mr Phillips, a commercial skipper, is to deliver four presentations at locations across the county, illustrated with slides and film - at St Davids City Hall, St Davids, on April 12, the Picton Centre, Haverfordwest, on April 13 and 20, and at the British Legion in Milford Haven on June 25. Doors open at 7pm and entry is £5, payable on the night.

His research into the wrecks revealed great detail about who was on board, why the vessels came to grief and what happened as they did.

After the round of presentations he will embark on his mission to investigate the hidden archaeological treasures of the area.

"The burial sites identified on land were plundered in the ancient past and only the structures themselves remain.

"But some of those now underwater may have remained intact and so who knows what remains to be discovered.

"We already know there are several sites of man made activity that are visible only during exceptionally low tides.

"There might even be an underwater Stonehenge, who knows?

"But I feel confident these sites exist," he added.