Heritage Category: Maritime Wreck

List Entry Number: 1000046

Date first listed: 13-Feb-1976

Location Description: Rill Cove, Cornwall.


Ordnance survey chart of RILL COVE
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Location Description: Rill Cove, Cornwall.

Latitude: 49.97592059

Longitude: -5.24060416

National Grid Reference: SW 67750 13450


Remains of wreck of cargo vessel thought to be that of a Spanish cargo vessel, which foundered off Rill Cove, apparently in the early seventeenth century or later. The wreck was dated from Spanish coins of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, found in association with the site.


The site was found in 1969, by divers investigating a modern wreck near Kynance Cove who observed iron cannon and other wreck material on the seabed. Preliminary research and investigation of the site resulted in the wrecks designation in 1976. The site, lying in 9m of water, has been excavated intermittently since its discovery, due to fluctuating sand levels on site. A 'banded' breech-loading gun, and over 300 sixteenth-century coins have been recovered from the site. The finds recovered include silver coins of Spanish type, of Philip II or III comprising two datable groups; 1555-98 and 1598-1603/5. The name of the vessel is not known but a tentative date for the site has been given as 1616.


Designation History: Designation Order: (No 1), No 203, 1976 Made: 13th February 1976 Laid before Parliament: 23rd February 1976 Coming into force: 15th March 1976 Protected area: 100 metres within NGR 67751345 on the 6-inch to 1 mile OS Map, sheet SW 61 SE

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

Documentary History: The site was found after the loss of the FV Kerris Reed in September 1969 by a party of visiting divers who recovered some material including coins. Since designation, an iron gun, other artefacts and more coins have been found. (5)

The recovered artefacts suggest that these are from the remains of an early seventeenth century vessel, possibly Spanish. Documentary evidence for an unidentified wreck known to have been lost in this area and about this time appears to exist but further details have not been forthcoming since this was first announced.

Archaeological History: Lying in approximately 9 metres of water, the wreckage and artefacts are confined to a relatively small area and are periodically covered by mobile sand. The lowering of sediment levels in the past has revealed archaeological material in rock gullies and it is thought that the wreckage and artefacts are confined to a relatively small area.

A report from 1995 contained a finds catalogue stated at the time to be a complete list, but no subsequent recoveries have been confirmed, and there is confusion over the number and whereabouts of the silver coins recovered. It is thought that a wrought iron swivel gun from the site is displayed in the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, and other finds may also be displayed in Porthleven.


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

Legacy System number: 1082103

Legacy System: AMIE - Wrecks


Books and journals
'International Journal of Nautical Archaeology' in International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, , Vol. 6, (), 163-166

End of official listing