A group of amateur treasure-hunters who discovered the remains of an 18th century Dutch merchant vessel lost off the Devon coast during a violent storm in 1721, have uncovered a second wreck – on the same spot.
Sunk in similar circumstances, the two ships lie side by side in the shallow waters of Jennycliff Bay, Plymouth Sound, twin tragedies separated by decades but found by the same four-man team...
Scuba diver Howard Jones, whose recent book Blind Faith detailed his search for the wreck of the Aagtekerke, a 1000-ton Dutch East India Company vessel, now claims to have conclusive evidence of the final resting place of HMS Pallas, a Royal Navy frigate that met its end in treacherous conditions 77 years later.
Mr Jones, 50, a former Royal Marine and Falklands veteran, said: "We decided to widen our search for the Aagtekerke, and within a matter of only a few yards came across a very small iron swivel gun."
The 176lb, 38in swivel gun, lying on the seabed in two pieces, was a small bore cannon, designed for side-mounting on a ship's rails and was engaged during short-range combat or to cover the crew during boarding parties.
"We retrieved the gun in its entirety and carefully removed hundreds of years of encrustation expecting to find another relic from the Dutch wreck, but we were amazed.
"Not only did the two pieces match exactly, but to find a prominent British broad arrow marking on the barrel of the gun was a revelation."
Originally a heraldic crest, the broad arrow symbol was adopted by Henry VIII to mark goods purchased from the monarchy's own purse. By the 17th century it signified all government-owned armaments and is still used today to mark property belonging to the MoD.