17th Century Wreck in Dorset

Lying in around 7-9 metres of water on a sand and shingle seabed on the edge of Hook Sands in Dorset, is the Swash Channel wreck. This is believed to be an early 17th Century armed merchant ship, which has been described as the most significant wreck found in British waters since the Mary Rose.   It was discovered in 1990 when a Dutch dredger hit it. It took until 2005 before an assessment was carried out for English Heritage. This showed that the site was much more important than had been suspected. Five carvings have been found so far, including the really ornate male head at the top of the rudder which is shown in the above photograph.

The wreck  is protected by sediment, which is now eroding. As it does, parts of the wreck become exposed and are decaying before they can be recorded. The surface of the wooden timbers are eaten away by a small crustacean called a gribble, and shipworm is boring into the wood, causing structural damage.

The plan is to raise the first 12 metres of the bow, then bury the rest in situ to try and preserve it.

You can read more about the wreck and a dive that was carried out by divers from the BBC programme Britain’s Secret Seas on the BBC’s website, from where the above photograph came.

About Neil Hambleton

I am a British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) Advanced Diver and an Open Water Instructor. I have been diving since 1992, after joining South China Diving Club (SCDC), which is a Hong Kong-based branch of the BSAC. Having moved to New Zealand, I am now a member of BSAC New Zealand.
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