Basic Site Facts
Age: 16th century, possibly late 15th century
Location: 100m east of marina wall, Brighton
Reason for Designation: rarity and archaeological significance
Wreck History and Loss
This wreck is the remains of an unidentified armed vessel which probably dates to the 16th century or possibly even the late 15th century, which would make it one of the oldest shipwrecks known in England, and significant to the evolution of ships during this period.
The site originally consisted of several bronze and iron guns and other associated artefacts; additionally exposed ship structure has been reported in the area on a couple of occasions. The orientation of the debris trail on the site suggests the ship ran aground from west to east.
Discovery and Investigation
In 1963 a bronze cannon was recovered from the area by diver Dave Berry and was acquired by the Royal Armouries. However, the site was identified in 1974 by members of the Black Cat Sub-Aqua Club and prior to site designation in 1983, a number of bronze and iron guns and associated material were recovered without archaeological recording.
The Black Cat group surveyed over 3000 square metres of seabed both visually and with metal detectors. Additionally, between 1984 and 1989 the Isle of Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (later incorporated into the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology) carried out pre-disturbance survey, excavation, site stabilisation and monitoring, some of which had been published in the International Journal for Nautical Archaeology.
One of the wrought iron guns recovered from the wreck site was still attached to its wooden carriage with a twist of hemp in its touch hole and a stone cannon ball in its barrel. As well as both bronze and iron guns, the material associated with the wreck includes stone and iron shot, breech chambers and concretions. Recent archive assessment has located some of the artefacts to the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth, The Shipwreck Heritage Centre, Hastings and The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, Charlestown.
An archive and site assessment is currently being carried out by David Parham, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University. To date sub-bottom and magnetometer surveys of the site have been undertaken. Contact has been made with Stan Merralls, the original project leader, and his site records have been added to the site archive, which has allowed a plan of the site to be created and provided some information on the finds originally recovered from the site.
The located material has been recorded with the support of a research grant from the Pilgrim Trust. Additionally support work by the Brighton branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club is being funded by a British Sub-Aqua Jubillee Trust grant and it is hoped that this will form the basis of an NAS Part II project on the site. It is anticipated that the objects which remain on the site will be recorded in the near future and the results of the recent work will be published in a journal article.