Wreck of pirate ship found off the Scillies

From This Is Cornwall


It is a swashbuckling tale of a time when no ship travelling the high seas was safe from the Pirate King of Scilly. In the mid-1600s, Captain John Mucknell's name was a byword for looting and kidnap which the King of England himself had been urged to stamp out.

Now the Western Morning News can reveal that a Scillonian shipwreck hunter's claim to have found the remains of the pirate's flagship, the John, has prompted a major investigation.

Maritime archeologists will later this month dive to the remains of the ship to start an analysis which could result in a rare protection order being issued. Todd Stevens, who located the wreck, said the story of the John and its colourful captain read like the script of a Hollywood blockbuster.

"It's like a movie," he said. "John Mucknell wasn't even 50 when he died, but he lived an amazing life, any part of which would make a great film, but looked at together is almost unreal."

Mr Stevens unravelled the fantastic story almost by accident when diving off the coast of St Mary's, the main inhabited island in the archipelago. He was aware there was a wreck in the shallow waters, but knew it hadn't really been explored because of strong rip currents.

However, when he decided to have a closer look, he was astonished to find the remains of a large wooden ship measuring about 80 feet long.

"I followed the lines in the sand and found there was more and more.

"I was fighting the tide, but I could dig in with my hands to hold on.

"I could tell it was a very big vessel, had been armed and from the construction technique that it was pre-1750.

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