YARMOUTH ROADS

Overview

Heritage Category: Maritime Wreck

List Entry Number: 1000044

Date first listed: 09-Apr-1984

Date of most recent amendment: 17-Dec-1984

Location Description: Yarmouth Roads, off Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

Chart

Ordnance survey chart of YARMOUTH ROADS
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

Location Description: Yarmouth Roads, off Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

Latitude: 50.70924850

Longitude: -1.49470438

National Grid Reference: SZ 35775 90079

Summary

Remains of late 16th or early 17th century carrack, possibly of Spanish origin, which stranded in Yarmouth Roads, Isle of Wight. She may possibly be the Santa Lucia.

History

The Yarmouth Roads Wreck is one of the few designated Historic Wrecks discovered during an archaeological survey of the seabed. It was found by volunteers in 1984 looking for the source of Roman pottery dredged up by fishermen. The wreck lies on an eroding, shallow ledge and comprises comprise four substantial, well preserved, fragments lying around an area of largely undisturbed clay sea-bed overlaid with mobile silts and sediments. The keel and the bottom have disappeared although the collapsed parts of the stern and sides have survived by becoming buried in hollows in the clay.


The construction of the vessel, with iron fastenings, carvel planking and other typical features, indicates that that this is probably a carrack of Mediterranean origin. Artefacts from the wreck are also believed to be in part Mediterranean in origin and are indicative of the mid-16th century. The presence of other artefacts from England and the Low Countries suggest that this may have been a Mediterranean merchant vessel engaged in some aspect of the triangular trade, with England and the Low Countries, in the mid-16th century. Three stone shot are the only indication of armament from the wreck. A bronze gun with the initials ZA, indicating the maker Zuane Alberghetti, found on the Solent seabed to the east of Yarmouth Harbour mouth was dated to sometime after 1580, and is not considered to be associated with this wreck site.


Further information from the High Court Admiralty Records tells of the Santa Lucia, a Spanish ship bound for Flanders with a cargo of wool lost off Yarmouth in 1567. It has been tentatively suggested that this vessel is the Yarmouth Roads wreck.

Details

Designation History: Designation Order: (No 1), No 521, 1984 Made: 9th April 1984 Laid before Parliament: 11th April 1984 Coming into force: 11th April 1984 Protected area: 50 metres within 50 42.588 N 001 29.927 W

Designation Order: (No 3), No 1963, 1984 Made: 17th December 1984 Laid before Parliament: 10th January 1985 Coming into force: 1st February 1985 Protected area: 50 metres within 50 42.52 N 001 29.597 W

No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.

Documentary History: The nature of the construction of the vessel, with iron fastenings and carvel planking, together with other revealed details of its structure, such as the presence of a beam shelf has been interpreted to mean that this is probably a ship of Mediterranean origin. The artefacts recovered from stratified deposits are believed to be mid 16th century in date and, in part, are thought to be Mediterranean in origin. The ceramics, for example, are now known to have come from Italy and the copper alloy scraps possibly from Italy, Spain or the Low Countries. However, the pewter items show characteristics associated with an English and Low Countries tradition and it has been suggested that this may have been a Mediterranean merchant vessel engaged in some aspect of the triangular trade with England and the Low Countries in the mid-16th century.

A search of historical records for a ship to match the Yarmouth Roads wreck was undertaken which revealed a record of a petition of a Spanish Merchant, Antonio de Gwarras, brought before the High Court Admiralty in 1567, seeking from the Captain of the Isle of Wight, the return of wool salvaged from the Santa Lucia. This Spanish ship was bound for Flanders with a cargo of wool when she was lost off Yarmouth in 1567. There have been so few wrecks recorded in this area over the centuries that it has been tentatively suggested that this vessel is the Yarmouth Roads wreck.

Archaeological History: The site was located in 1984 during a systematic search for the source of Roman pottery brought up in trawls. The wreck lies at a general depth of 5 to 6 metres on a clay bed with overlying mobile silty sand, shell and pebbles, with a strong current in the vicinity.

Excavation in the mid-1980s recorded four substantial, well preserved, fragments lying around an area of largely undisturbed clay sea-bed overlaid with mobile silts and sediments. The lack of recent deposition suggests that the sea-bed environment is erosive. The existing structure, therefore, has survived by becoming buried in hollows in the clay.

The size of the site and individual elements suggest a vessel around 32 metres in length and of heavy construction with carvel planking and iron fastenings. The stern of the vessel lies to the west. Excavations of the structural remains in this area, subsequently backfilled, have demonstrated that fragments of the vessel lie with their out-board faces downwards, suggesting that these have fallen away from the vessel. A fragment of the port side remains with the line of two decks.

A number of artefacts were recovered by excavation from good stratified deposits and others by surface collection. These include pewter plates and spoons, ceramics and copper alloy scraps. A bronze mortar found associated with the vessel but not mentioned in any earlier report has since been matched with other similar examples from Spanish Armada shipwrecks. This is considered to confirm the date and origin of the vessel.

Both diver inspection and the multibeam survey have recorded limited elements of the ship structure exposed above the seabed while debris from previous archaeological work is evident, including disjointed sections of a scaffold grid and sandbags placed to protect vulnerable areas.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 1082099

Legacy System: AMIE - Wrecks

Sources

Books and journals
Gale, A, The Story Beneath the Solent: Discovering Underwater Archaeology, (1991)
'International Journal of Nautical Archaeology' in International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, (), 183-192
'International Journal of Nautical Archaeology' in International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, (), 79-80,83-4

End of official listing