Isles of Scilly Maritime Archaeological Society

Seabed discovery from the oldest wreck on record

Oldest wreck in the Scillies

From This Is Cornwall

Wine jugs thought to have been on their way to a priory of monks on the Isles of Scilly have been discovered on the seabed, marking the site of what could be the oldest wreck in the islands.

An island maritime historian and diver has identified a number of broken pottery shards, which have been linked to a 700-year-old unidentified wreck.

The wreck, which occurred in 1305, is recorded in the Calendar of State Papers dated to the 14th century reign of King Edward I.

Maritime expert Richard Larn, a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd, said: "To find an unknown shipwreck site today to add to Scilly's list is a rare event and to find one that is nearly 707 years old is remarkable."

Mr Larn's stepson, dive boat skipper David McBride, of St Mary's, found the first large pottery shard five years ago at the north end of Tresco Channel close to Cromwell's castle.

Working with Mr Larn, who accurately dated that first find, Mr McBride had been quietly searching for proof that it was a possible medieval wreck and not just a typical anchorage scatter of broken pottery.

"Underwater archaeologists surveyed the site last year supported by Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Maritime Archaeological Society (CISMAS) under Kevin Camidge and ProMare, a US charity that backs scientific and archaeological projects," said Mr Larn.

"After plotting surface recoveries of an additional 180 shards they concluded there was a single core location area which has yielded almost 300 shards to date, including wine jar fragments with handles up to nine inches long."

The majority has been identified as green glaze Saintonge ware, from a small region on France's Atlantic coast within Poitou-Charentes.

Additional shards can be linked to Normandy, Southampton and Cornwall, but the majority are broken French wine jugs, presumably brought in for the monks of St Nicholas Priory on Tresco.

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