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Remains of Elizabethan wreck found in Thames Estuary

Elizabethan wreck: bow lifted onto deckThe remains of a late 16th century ship have been successfully recovered from the Thames Estuary. Working closely with experts from Wessex Archaeology, the Port of London Authority (PLA) raised the bow and part of the side of a vessel from Tudor times.

Other items raised include iron bars, an anchor, lead ingots, four cannons and more personal items such as candlesticks and leather shoes.  Despite the presence of cannons, it is thought this was a merchant vessel rather than a warship. No human remains have been found.

The wreckage was discovered during operations to deepen a shipping channel in the Thames Estuary. The PLA’s own fleet of survey and recovery vessels have been actively involved in the underwater excavation and recovery work. Scientific analysis has dated the timbers to 1574. The bow section is believed to be a unique find in the UK.

Nicola Clay, PLA environmental scientist said: 

“We have worked very closely with experts from Wessex Archaeology at every stage to ensure the wreck site was properly investigated and the remains safely recovered and brought ashore.”

Dr Antony Firth, who has been heading up the archaeological team from Wessex Archaeology said:

“This is a very exciting discovery. Although it is early days in unravelling the ship’s story, it is clearly an important discovery in increasing understanding of late 16th century English shipbuilding and also maritime trade and transport on the Thames.”

Further information:

Martin Garside, Port of London Authority (Tel: 020 7743 7915. Mobile 07736 362385).

Wessex Archaeology


Note to Editors:

The Port of London Authority is the port authority for 150 km (95 miles) of the tidal Thames from Teddington to the sea. It provides navigational, pilotage and other services for ships using the Port of London.  Amongst its responsibilities is the safety of navigation in the Thames Estuary and the maintenance of shipping channels.