Site believed to be the Northumberland, a 70-gun 3rd rate ship-of-the-line, built in 1679, was lost in the 'Great Storm' of 1703 along with the designated Stirling Castle and Restoration. The site was found after investigation of a fisherman's net fastener in 1979.
The Northumberland, a 70-gun third rate, was lost in the 'Great Storm' of 1703 along with the Stirling Castle, Restoration and the Mary. The ship was the first third rate to be built under the Thirty Ships programme, and was launched in 1679.
The site was found in 1979 at the start of a systematic investigation by local divers of more than 300 net fastenings recorded by an East Kent fishing family. Most of the items are on display in the Ramsgate Maritime Museum.
Designation Order: (No 1), No 827, 1981
Made: 8th June 1981
Laid before Parliament: 16th June 1981
Coming into force: 7th July 1981
Protected area: 50 metres within 51 15.759 N 001 30.081E
Designated Order: (No 1), No 2089, 1989
Made: 10th November 1989
Laid before Parliament: 17th November 1989
Coming into force: 8th December 1989
Protected area: 50 metres within 51 15.45 N 001 30.12 E
Designation Order: No 2395, 2004
Made: 12th September 2004
Laid before Parliament: 14th September 2004
Coming into force: 5th October 2004
Protected area: 300 metres within 51 15.4802 N 001 30.0161 E
No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
The Northumberland was lost in the Great Storm of 1703 along with the Stirling Castle, Restoration and Mary. She was built in Bristol in 1679 by Bailey; rebuilt in 1702 at Chatham and owned by the Royal Navy. Her master at the time of loss was James Greenway. The best eyewitness account of events on the Goodwins surviving is that of James Adams, who was a passenger aboard a merchantman at anchor in the Downs. He not only recorded events concerning his own ship, but also those of other ships around him for the whole 13 day duration of the storm and personally witnessed the Northumberland and Mary disappear as they dragged onto the Goodwins and were lost with all hands. In the case of the Northumberland this meant that she lost 253 crew.
Various contemporary sources describe the loss of the Restoration:
'Deale, Nov. 27. We have had so violent a storm at south west that the like has not been known in these parts in the memory of man; it began to blow hard yesterday in the evening, but about 11 at night it blew so hard with sudden gusts and violent storms of wind, that it made all the houses of the town shake...and so continued till about 9 this morning. We find missing of our merchant men upwards of 70 sail, and these men of war following, viz...NORTHUMBERLAND, Captain Greenway...
'Postscript at one in the afternoon: It blows hard still, but being cleared up to the north-east we perceive two hulls of ships riding at anchor near the Breake, which are supposed to be the Sterling Casle [sic] and Restauration [sic], or the Northumberland...but the flood coming on we can see no more of them.'
'Particularly, 'tis a most remarkable story of a man belonging to the Mary, a fourth rate man of war, lost upon the Goodwin Sands; and all the ship's company but himself being lost, he, by the help of a piece of the broken ship, got a-board the Northumberland; but the violence of the storm continuing, the Northumberland ran the same fate with the Mary, and coming on shore upon the same sand, was split to pieces by the violence of the sea: and yet this person, by a singular Providence, was one of the 64 that were delivered by a Deal hooker out of that ship, all the rest perishing in the sea.'
The site was found by divers after investigation of a fisherman's net fastener in 1979 but does not appear to have been surveyed until 1991 during Naval Hydrographic operations.. The wreck lies on flat fine sand orientated at 320/140 degrees. In 1991 when the Navy last surveyed the site, the least echosounder depth was 11.2 in a general depth of 15.5m. Side scan sonar height 6m and scour of 16.5m. A further piece of wreckage lies close to the north of this wreck. In 1984 there was 50 feet of complete bow section, ribs were showing, the remainder of the starboard side was compressed down to 15 feet and the port side was sanded in. Finds from the site have consisted of pewter plate, flagon, glass bottles, rigging blocks and rope. A bell was also recovered in 1981 dated 1701.
The site lies in a depth of 15 to 20 metres. The sediment in the vicinity consists of sand mixed with mussel shell fragments. A layer of finer mobile sand noted over the site in 1995 had largely disappeared by 1999, and the juvenile mussels colonising the timbers were no longer evident, suggesting successful colonisation had been prevented by increased sediment.
Magnetometer and Bathymetric surveys by the Archaeological Diving Unit (ADU) followed in 1999 and 2002. In 1999 the site appeared to be stable but a number of exposed removable items suggested that there might have been a gradual lowering of sediment levels across some areas of the site. Identified objects include glass onion bottles, pewter containers, copper cauldrons, lead sheeting, and ceramics. Some few raised artefacts are kept in the Ramsgate Maritime Museum.
By 2003 areas of the site exposed in the 1999 survey had become buried, particularly the northern area of the site although sediment erosion remains a natural threat and in 2003 items of fishing net were found snagged on the site.
The diving operations in May 2009 were to focus on the recovery of timbers for dendrochronological assessment from selected areas. The area to be sampled represented a large section of coherent ship structure, comprising numerous frames, planks and several unidentified timbers. During the fieldwork, this section of the site was observed to be largely concealed beneath sediment which was in some places in excess of 0.5m in depth. This sediment cover prevented the recovery of samples for analysis.