Marine archaeologists excavating the Swash Channel off the Dorset coast, have raised their largest single object to-date: the 17th century vessels intricately carved rudder.
Carving on top of the Swash Channel Wrecks rudder. Photo Credit English Heritage.
Marine Archaeologists excavating Swash channel shipwreck
The shipwreck was originally discovered by Wessex Archaeology during a geophysical survey of Poole harbor in 2004. For the last seven years, it has been investigated by experts from Bournemouth University and the Borough of Poole Museum Service.
Funded by English Heritage and Poole Harbour Commissioners, this project saw the vessel’s bowcastle (the fortified front of the upper hull) raised in 20ll , while a l2m section of bow was lifted the following year.
Decorated with a bearded male face, the 8.4m long rudder is a striking addition to the body of early Baroque carvings that have been recovered from the wreck. ‘ We have three other carvings, mostly from the gun ports, which depict bearded mermen and cherubs,’ said project leader Dave Parham of Bournemouth University.” This is the only carved rudder that we know of in the U.K., however with a small number of similar examples from the Baltic region. Dendrochronological analysis on our ship suggests that it may have come from the Netherlands .’
One of the carvings during conservation
Although the name of the wreck remains unknown, its was a large, high status vessel, equipped with 23 cannon, and analysis of one of its timbers and recovered pottery and clay pipes suggests a date of c.1630-1645. The layout of the deck and the pine sheathing on its hull, equipping it for warmer waters, suggests that this was a merchant vessel. ‘said Dave.
The rudder has now been sent to York Archaeological Trust for conservation. It will be treated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) For two years before going on display at Poole Museum.