Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ships: The Swash Channel Wreck

The oceans are full of ships cast into the depths by violent storms, war or just very unfortunate judgment on the part of their crews. Most probably the majority of same have either rotted down to nothing or are yet to be found. Right at this minute, though, a certain urgency exists for what is known as the Swash Channel Wreck. Without immediate action, this intriguing find is in danger of being lost to sea worms and decay.


Located off the coast of Dorset, England in 2006, the ship is thought to date from the 1620s or ‘30s and has been referred to as the “biggest discovery since the Mary Rose.” Evidently the protective sand which has kept the ship in tact for centuries has been slowly shifting away from the wreck, leaving it exposed to all the damage salt water and sea life can do to ancient wood. Add to this the fact that the wreck lies under a busy shipping lane, therefore making it impossible to mound sand over the ship once again, and you have a recipe for disaster.

According to this article from The Independent online, however, the decision has been made to take immediate action. Through the combined efforts of Bournemouth University, whose marine archaeology department originally discovered the wreck, and the Poole Museum, parts of the ship that cannot be reburied will be raised from the ocean’s grip and preserved at the museum.

The urgency of the mission is palpable in the comments made by David Payton, a senior lecturer in marine archaeology at the University. From the article:

The damage [to the ship] has increased dramatically since we first started studying it. It’s a race – you’ve only got a certain amount of time before it’s too late and there’s no point.

The ship is ornately carved and made of timber which has been determined to have come from the border of Germany and Holland. Despite this information, no one has yet been able to determine what ship she actually is, or even what country she might have come from. The mystery makes the potential secrets to be revealed by the Swash Channel Wreck all the more enticing.

For more information on previous research, check Bournemouth University’s website from which the eerie picture at the header has been borrowed. According to the University, it is a carving of a merman on the hull of the wreck. One wishes the little merman could tell us all the secrets that the Swash Channel Wreck may never willingly disclose.

13 comments:

Undine said...

"Merman? Was that as uncommon as I think? I notice that the website calls this carving "mysterious."

Makes you wonder if there wasn't something unusual about this ship. I certainly wish these researchers well in their efforts.

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Undine! Actually, you know, a lot of Baroque accents on furniture, silver and jewelry have the "two-tailed" variety of mermen as decoration. That said, finding them on a ship is not particularly common. I'll certainly update here as more info about the wreck appears.

Le Loup said...

Imagine something so important being left to rot for so long! I look forward to hearing more about this.
Thank you for the info Pauline, I will post a link on my blog.
Regards.
http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Le Loup and thankee indeed! It's such a balancing act, particularly in marine archaeology, as to which will hurt the artifact more: moving it or leaving it. In this instance, it's obviously time to move. As I said, I'll keep y'all posted.

Isis said...

The Swedish ship Vasa that sank in 1628 had mermen, tritons, as sculptures (among a number of other beasts and creatures). A reconstruction can be seen here:

http://hem.bredband.net/johava/tritonfarg1.JPG

Pauline said...

I won't repeat my previous remarks on this post regarding Baroque merpeople and archaeological protocols since Blogger chose to delete them (along with Thursday's post, evidently). Suffice it to say that I appreciate you all for stopping by and adding to the discussion regardless.

Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! Very cool... and sorry to hear about the disappearance of Thursday's post (and your previous comments). I hope the Blogger people get their act together soon.

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Timmy! Actually, the "bonus" Friday post on poultices was Thursday's post so everything is up. Blogger messed up the Label Cloud somehow but I don't have the heart to go through the trouble of changing it back - even though it was far more asthetically pleasing than the standard cloud. One has to imagine this type of thing will happen again...

Undine said...

Good old Blogger, the best advertising Wordpress has ever gotten. There's nothing like going to your blog's Dashboard first thing in the morning only to find it's disappeared for no known reason.

A friend of mine has a favorite saying: "Google is evil." And she's completely serious.

By God, I'm starting to think she's right.

Pauline said...

Amen, Undine; Amen!

Munin said...

So glad I stumbled upon this. It's the first I have head of the wreck. Reminds me of when I was a little kid and my dad took me to watch the Mary Rose being raised.

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Munin; so good to hear from you my friend! What an amazing thing that must have been. I envy you the experience.

I'll try to stay on top of this one and keep updating as the artifiacts make their way to the museum.

Shipping Jobs said...

Wow - this is really an excellent overview of the issue. The future of arctic shipping indeed depends on a host of factors, of which climate is just one.