A treasure ship that sank more than 250 years ago off the West country coast has started to give up her cargo – after a diver found an elephant tusk.
The 18th century ivory is in remarkable condition despite its time underwater and is now to be sold at a fine art auction.
The Hope sank off Chesil beach in Dorset in 1749 and the wreck was besieged by up to 2,000 beach combers – just as the MSC Napoli was when she was beached off Branscombe last year.
The Dutch sailing ship was laden with gold, silver and other treasures worth £50,000 – equivalent to £4 million today.
She had visited China and the Caribbean and was on her way back to her home port of Amsterdam. But as she sailed up the English Channel, she was wrecked off the Dorset coast and entered local folklore.
The precise location of the Hope was unidentified for many years and today she still attracts treasure hunters hoping to get rich.
Trevor Lee was one such hopeful diving in the general area of the wreck when he spotted a small part of the tusk poking out of the sand.