BARTHOLOMEW LEDGES

Overview

Heritage Category: Maritime Wreck

List Entry Number: 1000066

Date first listed: 23-Sep-1980

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Feb-1983

Location Description: St Marys Sound, Isles of Scilly

Chart

Ordnance survey chart of BARTHOLOMEW LEDGES
© 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: St Marys Sound, Isles of Scilly

Latitude: 49.90606670

Longitude: -6.33148330

National Grid Reference: SV 89108 09650

Summary

Remains of what is thought to be a mid-sixteenth to early-seventeenth century armed cargo vessel, which foundered after grounding on the Bartholomew Ledges. It is thought to be of Iberian origin, leading to a suggestion that this vessel may be the remains of the 'Great Levantine' San Bartolome, which was part of the Spanish Armada fleet which left Ferrol on the 8th October 1597; but there is no conclusive proof of this identification.

History

The wreck is of a late sixteenth-century armed ship carrying medieval bronze bell fragments and lead ingots of Spanish type. It is possible that the vessel was the San Bartolome lost in 1597, but there is no positive archaeological evidence to confirm this.


The site was found in the late 1970s and many tons of bell metal and lead were removed from the site before designation in 1980. A high proportion of the bell fragments included parts of inscriptions, but very few pieces were recorded before being sent to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for recycling. The only three surviving fragments have been traced to The Lord Nelson public house on the waterfront at Poole, Dorset. Additional finds recovered over the years include silver coins, a gold seal, barrel spigots, iron shot, buttons and small lace brass objects. Six coins dating from 1474 to 1555 provide an approximate age of the site.


Following the stranding of a German cruise liner Albatross on Bartholomew Ledge in 1997, it was proposed that a permanent marker beacon should be installed. In 2001 Trinity House installed a 3 feet diameter and 25 feet tall steel column into Bartholomew Ledges.

Details

Designation History: Designation Order: (No 3), No 1419, 1980 Made: 23rd September 1980 Laid before Parliament: 24th September 1980 Coming into force: 25th September 1980 Protected area: 250 metres within 49 54.26 N 006 19.83 W

Designation Order: (No 4), No 1456, 1980 Made: 1st October 1980 Laid before Parliament: 2nd October 1980 Coming into force: 3rd October 1980 Protected area: 250 metres within 49 54.26 N 006 19.83 W

Designation Order: No 128, 1983 Made: 9th February 1983 Laid before Parliament: 15th February 1983 Coming into force: 8th March 1983 Protected area: 100 metres within 49 54.26 N 06 19.83 W

Designation Order: (No 1), No 1178, 2006 Made: 26th April 2006 Laid before Parliament: 26th April 2006 Coming into force: 17th May 2006 Protected area: 150 metres within 49 54.364 N 006 19.889 W

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

Documentary History: On 9 October 1597 Don Martin de Padilla sailed with 136 ships carrying 9,000 troops the plan being to intercept Essex's fleet on its return and establish a Spanish base at Falmouth...Padilla was within 30 miles of the Lizard on 12 October when his fleet was struck by a severe storm which sank 28 of his ships. The 'Great Levantine' San Bartolome was part of this fleet.

However, there is no positive archaeological evidence to confirm her identity, although she was carrying medieval bronze bell fragments and lead ingots of Spanish type.

Archaeological History: In the late 1970s a number of lead ingots and large quantities of broken bell metal were discovered at the site and a period of extensive salvage followed. A high proportion of the bell fragments contained inscriptions but few pieces were recorded before being sent to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for recycling. The seabed is very rugged with rock outcrops rising to within 1 metre of the surface at low spring tides. A jumble of massive loose rocks, up to 4 metres high, with pockets of smaller rocks and boulders, overlie the bedrock and gradually give way to gravel and coarse sand which appears to cover most of the seabed below a depth of about 14 metres. All exposed rocks and boulders have very dense kelp forest but little other weed growth and this appears to be a very dynamic environment, with even the largest rocks being moved by storm action.

Other finds included breech loading iron guns, iron and stone shot, anchors, fragments of glazed and earthenware pottery, six silver coins dating from 1474 to 1555, lead ingots and a number of personal items. Some of the ingots are not only consistent with a sixteenth- to early seventeenth century date, but are also consistent with similar ingots found in other Armada vessels in UK and Irish waters, but there is no direct evidence to identify this vessel as the San Bartolome. The anchors appear to be of a type consistent with Iberian construction. A stock-mounted swivel gun is of a common sixteenth- to early seventeenth century type, not specific to any particular nation, but some smaller wrought iron breech-loading swivel guns have parallels with sixteenth century Spanish shipwrecks in the New World.

The vessel is most likely a late-sixteenth century Spanish or Spanish Netherlands armed cargo vessel.

In 2003 a programme commenced which included underwater photography, tagging of artefacts and a survey of several guns and anchors. The seabed is very rugged with rock outcrops rising to within 1 metre of the surface at low spring tides. A jumble of massive loose rocks, up to 4 metres high, with pockets of smaller rocks and boulders, overlie the bedrock and gradually give way to gravel and coarse sand which appears to cover most of the seabed below a depth of about 14 metres. All exposed rocks and boulders have very dense kelp forest but little other weed growth and this appears to be a very dynamic environment, with even the largest rocks being moved by storm action.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 1082126

Legacy System: AMIE - Wrecks

Sources

Books and journals
Larn, R, Shipwrecks of the Isles of Scilly, (1993)
Rodger, N A M, The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Volume I, 660-1649, (1997)
Other
Bartholomew Ledges, Isles of Scilly: Designated Site Assessment: Full Report,
Bartholomew Ledges, Isles of Scilly: Designated Site Assessment: Full Report,

End of official listing