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Sicilians In Ancient Salcombe

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Author Topic: Sicilians In Ancient Salcombe  (Read 1058 times)
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« on: May 18, 2009, 12:41:32 pm »

Return to the deep

Fieldwork at Langdon Bay and Moor Sand ceased in the early 1980s. Keith Muckelroy, a pioneering nautical archaeologist whose ideas are still commonly discussed, had been working on them both when he died tragically young in a diving accident in Loch Tay. His role at the National Maritime Museum was taken on by Martin Dean, who continued to work with Stuart Needham, but the recovery of information declined, and post-excavation study ended due to the changing commitments of key personnel.

The 2002 National Heritage Act for the first time brought marine archaeology in England under the wing of English Heritage. This gave it a valued opportunity to provide funds for the work to be completed by a collaborative team from Bournemouth, Oxford and St Andrews universities and the British Museum. But within a few months of the work restarting in earnest, a third similar site was discovered close to Moor Sand. In order to understand the full context of this new discovery, we have to go back over 10 years.

During the summer of 1995 the South West Maritime Archaeological Group (SWMAG), a team of amateur archaeologists who have over many years investigated shipwreck sites around the British coast, completed their work on the Erme Estuary Cannon and Tin Ingot protected wreck sites, for which they had recently received the bsac Duke of Edinburgh's Prize. They now turned their attention to a number of sites close to the nearby port of Salcombe.

These included, amongst others, the 19th century wrecks of the iron barque Merion and the composite tea clipper Gossamer. Another site was a group of cannons situated 400m to seaward of Gara Rock that had been discovered a few years before.

Whilst still setting up the Cannon site survey, the group chanced upon a finger-sized gold ingot and a number of gold coins. They immediately contacted the Receiver of Wreck (to whom all finds from the sea have to be reported) and the Archaeological Diving Unit at St Andrews. With the agreement of the relevant authorities, work continued in secret while the site was excavated and the remainder of the gold and other material recovered.
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