List Entry Summary
This site is designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 as it is or may prove to be the site of a vessel lying wrecked on or in the sea bed and, on account of the historical, archaeological or artistic importance of the vessel, or of any objects contained or formerly contained in it which may be lying on the sea bed in or near the wreck, it ought to be protected from unauthorised interference. Protected wreck sites are designated by Statutory Instrument. The following information has been extracted from the relevant Statutory Instrument.
Name: LANGDON BAY
List Entry Number: 1000059
Langdon Bay, off Dover, Kent
The site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
National Grid Reference: TR 34144 41761
Date first designated: 25-May-1978
Date of most recent amendment: 19-Jan-1979
Legacy System Information
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System: AMIE - Wrecks
This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.
List entry Description
Information provided under the Statutory Instrument heading below forms part of the official record of a protected wreck site. Information provided under other headings does not form part of the official record of the designation. It has been compiled by Historic England to aid understanding of the protected wreck site.
Summary of Site
The recovery of Middle Bronze Age artefacts from Langdon Bay, Kent, has pointed to the possibility that the wreck of a cargo vessel of the same date lies within the Bay, although no remains of the vessel have been recovered. The location of this material is tangible evidence of cross-Channel connections that, either from shipwreck or a hoard deposited soon after arrival provides a rare chance to view trade in action, rather than trade as inferred from redistributed material.
Reason for Designation
In 1974, members of the Dover sub-aqua club found bronze objects just outside Dover Harbour. These were identified as types of tools, weapons and ornaments, made in France during the Middle Bronze Age and rarely found in Britain. The typology of the metalwork indicates a date of c.1100BC. More than 350 objects have since been recovered from the site and are in the care of the British Museum.
Designation Order: (No 4), No 764, 1978
Made: 25th May 1978
Laid before Parliament: 25th May 1978
Coming into force: 26th May 1978
Protected area: 75 metres within 51 07.60 N 001 20.80 E
Designation Order: No 56, 1979 Made: 19th January 1979 Laid before Parliament: 26th January 1979 Coming into force: 16th February 1979 Protected area: 150 metres within 51 07.60 N 001 20.80 E
No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
Documentary History: Middle Bronze Age finds from Langdon Bay, near Dover. On the 14th August 1974 members of the Dover Sub-Aqua Club began diving on the eastern side of Langdon Bay east of Dover where they had frequently dived over several years. On this occasion they came across a total of 86 objects of Bronze Age date. The finds mostly came from a narrow gulley in the chalk about 79 ft long, 2 to 10 ft wide and 1 ft deep. The site was marked by a buoy and was plotted on a chart. A further eight objects were recovered in July 1975.
Archaeological History: The first artefacts were found by members of Dover Sub-Aqua Club in August 1974 and to date a total of 360 finds have been recovered from the site, all of bronze and comprising tools, weapons, ornaments and miscellaneous pieces. A high proportion of these finds are of continental forms with potentially widespread origins between Brittany and the Lower Rhine region. The bronzes have suffered varied degrees of abrasion as a result of their periodic exposure on the seabed during three millennia, but a good proportion is still identifiable to specific types. There is also clear evidence that many pieces were already bent and broken up in antiquity. Because of this damage and their likely continental origins, it has been hypothesised that the assemblage forms a cargo of scrap metal being imported into the Britain for recasting. In that context it is significant that the Bronze Age Dover boat was found only 2.5 miles away.
In 1977, a Professor at Newcastle University examined the damaged edges of some of the implements and was able to show that the collection consisted of lead-free high-tin bronzes. The weapons were normally cast in moulds of clay, stone or bronze from a bronze solution of about 12 per cent tin and heated to about 900 degrees centigrade.
The site lies on a chalk wave-cut platform in 6 to 10 metres of water, 500 metres seaward of the white cliffs of Dover. A blanket of mobile sediment formed during and after the Channel Tunnel excavations, which has now dispersed, although fine sediment lies in shallow gullies across the site. There are strong currents and poor visibility.
Since 1978 to the present day there appears to have been a noticeable amount of artefact movement, demonstrated by the fact that previously searched or barren areas have yielded new artefacts, whilst a bronze artefact was found weighing down crisp packets in a hollow.
Books and journals
Council for Kentish Archaeology, , Kent Archaeological Review, (1976), 67-73
Council for Kentish Archaeology, , Kent Archaeological Review, (1977)
'Antiquity' in Antiquity, (1980), 100-109
The above chart is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale chart, please see the attached PDF - 1000059 .pdf
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End of official listing