Basic Site Facts
Period: medieval (15th/16th century)
Location: east of Lundy Island, North Devon coast
Reason for Designation: rarity and archaeological significance
Wreck History and Loss
Very little is known about this site which consists of a scatter of objects, mainly ordnance. No wooden structure survives above the seabed but the site may represent a rare early Tudor war ship, based on the period of use of and type of finds.
This would make the Gull Rock wreck of obvious historical and archaeological significance, particularly when considering the technological implications of the change from ‘clinker’ to ‘carvel’ shipbuilding which occurred around this time. The site lies on a silty seabed at the base of a bedrock slope and it is possible that more of the wreck may be preserved beneath the surface. The wreck lies east of Gull Rock, which may have been a navigational hazard in the approach to the significant medieval port of Bristol and it is possible that the ship may have fallen foul of this.
Discovery and Investigation
The site was discovered in 1968 by dive tour operator, John Shaw; however, its location was lost after this and not relocated until 1983. A pre-disturbance survey was carried out at this time and four stone cannon balls were lifted. The site was designated in 1990 and more recently surveys have been carried out to establish the position of any archaeological material and monitor the condition of the site.
The collection includes two wrought iron cannon, a breech loading gun and eight limestone cannon balls, along with other metal artefacts presumed to be modern. These objects have not been removed from the seabed and monitoring of their conditions occurs at regular intervals. Although the site is in a protected area some damage to the objects seems to have occurred in the past. Of the cannon balls that were raised, one at least appears to be at the British Museum.
The site will be visited at regular intervals by Wessex archaeology and it is hoped that a full diver and geophysical survey can be undertaken in the future.
The Gull Rock designated wreck site is situated within Lundy Marine Nature Reserve (MNR) which includes the sea and shore around Lundy Island and contains some of England’s rarest plants and animals.