By Will Pavia, Frank Pope and Tom Sheldrick
When Charles Trollope, an internationally renowned expert on historic ordnance, arrived at the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, Hampshire, to view five cannon salvaged from the sea, he came to a stark conclusion.
An historic site had apparently been stripped of valuable artefacts by an independent diving team and an important piece of Britain’s heritage was soon to be put up for sale.
So began a fight to save one of the bronze cannon, whose provenance is still in dispute, and to protect the remains of HMS London, a 17th-century warship, from the expeditions of profiteering salvage companies.
After an investigation by The Times and outrage among historians and marine archaeologists, English Heritage said that it had applied to have the wreck listed as a protected site, ensuring that further independent salvage expeditions were illegal.
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