The sad wreck of our maritime heritage
- On 08/09/2008
- In Parks & Protected Sites
By Frank Pope
Thirty years ago off the coast of Kent, beneath some 50ft of water, the prow of the 17th-century warship Stirling Castle emerged from a sandbank.
It had been entombed by the Goodwin Sands for 300 years until the current changed.
Soon, enough sand had been scoured away to reveal the entire hull.
When she was discovered in 1979 her timbers looked as strong as the day they were hewn.
Now she lies disintegrating.
The Stirling Castle is one of ten wrecks identified in English Heritage's new Heritage at Risk initiative, but lack of funds has meant that archaeologists can only watch as the sea reclaims the past.
Britain's ships made her great. We honour them by letting them rot, and pat ourselves on the back for doing so.
Britain's navies pushed back the frontiers of the map, shaped world trade and fought epic sea battles.
We are proud of our maritime past - except when it comes to looking after the shipwrecks that embody it.