UK grants protected status to ultra-rare 13th-century shipwreck
A medieval 13th century shipwreck has been granted the highest level of government protection in the UK in hopes of protecting a national historic treasure.
The mortar wreck, which was discovered in Poole Bay in Dorset in 2020, is among three shipwrecks which have been given government protected status by the Secretary of State for Culture based on advice from Historic England.
The remains of the medieval vessel were discovered by diver Trevor Small, who has been operating dive charters for 30 years. Dating of tree rings from the wreck indicates that the timbers used to build the hull came from Irish oak felled between 1242 and 1265, during the reign of King Henry III. Survival of 13th century ships is extremely rare, and prior to discovery there were no known wrecks of 11th to 14th century seagoing vessels in English waters.
“We have very few 750-year-old ships left to see today, so we are extremely fortunate to have discovered such a rare example and in such good condition. A combination of low oxygen water, sand and stones has preserved one side of the ship and the hull is clearly visible,” said Tom Cousins, a maritime archaeologist at Bournemouth University.
The ship was carrying two Gothic tombstones carved from Purbeck marble, a limestone quarried locally in Dorset. Other finds include a large cauldron for cooking soup, a smaller cauldron, which would once have had a long handle for heating water, and cups covered in concretion, the hard solid mass that forms on objects. submarines over time.
The other two exceptionally well-preserved wrecks which have been designated under the Wreck Protection Act 1973 are the 16th century Shingles Bank. Wreck NW96 and 17th century shingle bank Wreck NW68. Both were discovered off the Isle of Wight by divers Martin Pritchard and Dave Fox.
While the NW96 the wreck is believed to be the remains of an armed merchant ship, NW68 It is believed to have been a mid to late 17th century armed vessel, probably of Dutch origin. Archaeological remains of NW96 and NW68 the ships include several cannons, a large anchor, at least 50 very large lead ingots with unidentified markings, and stone cannonballs. The ingots have a fixed size and weight and would have served as a currency of exchange.
“These fascinating wrecks can tell us so much about our national history and it is right that we protect them for future generations. The survival of the 13th century mortar wreck is particularly rare, with timbers dating to the reign of Henry III, and Shingle Bank wrecks from the 16th and 17th centuries highlight the historic trade,” said Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Heritage.
The granting of government protection to the three wrecks brings the total number of protected wreck sites in English waters to 57. Their status means divers need a special license administered by Historic England to dive wrecks. Their artifacts are protected and their condition will be carefully monitored.