Heritage Category: Maritime Wreck
List Entry Number: 1000063
Date first listed: 12-Feb-1975
Location Description: Tearing Ledge, Western Rocks, Isles of Scilly
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Location Description: Tearing Ledge, Western Rocks, Isles of Scilly
National Grid Reference: SV 80926 06177
The Tearing Ledge site may be the remains of one of a number of ships belonging to Sir Cloudisley Shovell's fleet which struck the Western Rocks, Isles of Scilly, on 22-23 October 1707. Despite being designated as the 50-gun fifth-rate Romney, the wreck is most likely to be that of the Eagle, a 70-gun third-rate, or indeed parts of both.
The Tearing Ledge site may be the remains of one of a number of ships belonging to Admiral Cloudisley Shovell's fleet of 21 vessels returning from the Siege of Toulon via Gibraltar. Poor navigation due to faulty compasses, bad weather and the Rennell current brought the fleet to the Western Rocks of the Isles of Scilly on October 22nd, 1707 where four of the fleet were wrecked, the Eagle, Romney, Firebrand and the Association. The lives of 1684 men were lost. The wreck is most likely to be that of the 1065 ton Eagle, a 70 gun 3rd rate built in Portsmouth by Daniel Furzer as part of the Thirty Ships programme in 1679 and re-built at Chatham in 1699. The possibility that the wreck is that of the 683 ton Romney, a 54 gun 4th rate built in Blackwall in 1694, or parts of both, cannot be ruled out.
The site was discovered in July 1969.
Designation Order: (No 1), No 174, 1975
Made: 12th February 1975
Laid before Parliament: 20th February 1975
Coming into force: 13th March 1975
Protected area: 200 metres within 49 52.200 N 006 26.483 W
No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
Documentary History: Probably one of Sir Cloudisley Shovell's fleet of 1707, this wreck is most likely the Eagle, one of seven Third Rate ships in a fleet of 21 vessels returning from the siege of Toulon via Gibraltar.
Poor navigation due to faulty compasses, bad weather and the Rennell current brought the fleet amongst the Western Rocks of the Isles of Scilly. At 8pm on the 23rd October 1707 the Monmouth fired a warning shot indicating danger, but it was too late for many of the ships to respond. The Eagle was wrecked on Tearing Ledge close to the Bishop Rocks. The association, Romney and Firebrand were also lost.
Archaeological History: The remains were found by divers in July 1969 who initially identified the site as being that of the Romney lost in 1707. The finds include 65 iron guns, cannon balls, 1 anchor, and bottle and glass fragments along with lead scupper pipes. A bronze ship's bell dated 1701 is now in the Museum of Nautical Art, Penzance. Three lead containers were also recovered as was a quantity of silver and gold coinage.
Most of the material is strewn along a steep-sided, sand-filled rock gully on the east side of Tearing Ledge near Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly, running north-south at a depth of around 120ft in the north, down to around 70ft in the south. A few artefacts lie on the south side of the ledge in 90-120 ft. Several large anchors are scattered over the site. No wooden structure has been located.
Although the illustrated Gostello map in the British Library shows the Eagle lost on the Crim, survey work carried out in between 1974-6 seasons strongly suggested that Tearing Ledge was, in fact, the site of the Eagle. This argument is based on the number of guns on the site. The Romney would have carried a maximum of 54 guns, the largest being 12 pounders - whereas a total of 65 guns have been accounted for - including four 32 pounders and nineteen 24 pounders - all too heavy for a ship the size of the Romney. The size of the anchors and the discovery of the ship's bell (dated the year of her re-commissioning after rebuild) all add weight to the identification of the wreck as the Eagle.
Desk-based assessment in 2007/8 also noted that the Gostello chart shows the Romney as having been lost close to the area of the current Tearing Ledge designation. The confusion with the Eagle may have arisen since another Tearing Ledge lies adjacent to Crim Rocks, shown as the place of loss on the Gostello chart. A report on the salvage of Eagle (1970) clearly identifies Crim Rocks as the wreck site. Nevertheless, the number of guns recorded from this designated site is greater than the number belonging to the Romney; additionally the bell dated 1701 fits the Eagle.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 1082123
Legacy System: AMIE - Wrecks
Books and journals
Colledge, J J, Ships of the Royal Navy: Volume 1, (1989)
Hepper, D J, British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859, (1994)
Larn, R, McBride, P, Sir Cloudsley Shovell's Disaster in the Isles of Scilly, (1985), 20-21,39-2
Lyon, D, The Sailing Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy Built, Purchased and Captured 1688-1860, (1993)
'International Journal of Nautical Archaeology' in International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, , Vol. 13, (), 113 - 119
Anderson, R C, 'The Society for Nautical Research occasional publications' in Lists Of Men-Of-War 1650-1700, Part 1 : English Ships 1649-1702, , Vol. 5, (1966), 37, 57
Tearing Ledge, Isles of Scilly: Designated Site Assessment: Full Report, June 2005, Wessex Archaeology: ref: 53111.03x
Wessex Archaeology, January 2008, Ref: 53111.03yy, Tearing Ledge, Isles of Scilly: Designated Site Assessment: Archaeological Report,
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.
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.
Statutory Instruments: 1975/174
End of official listing