Heritage Category:
Maritime Wreck
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Dunwich Bank, off Dunwich Heath, Suffolk


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

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 - 1000073.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 30-Nov-2021 at 06:49:07.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Dunwich Bank, off Dunwich Heath, Suffolk
National Grid Reference:
TM 48567 67863


The remains of an armed cargo vessel which foundered in the area off Dunwich, thought to have been some time between 1536 and 1600.


The site was located in October 1993 by Southwold fisherman who recovered ship timbers and concreted shot in a trawl. The site was inspected by a local diver and archaeologist in June 1994; a bronze gun and other wreck material was discovered. The gun was subsequently raised and treated in a specially constructed tank at Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station.

The gun is thought to be a type produced by Remigy de Halut in c.1540, and this is supported by his name being visible on two of the guns that remain on the seabed, both dated to 1554. Details of the recovered gun have been published in both the Journal of the Ordnance Society and the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.


Designation History: Designation Order (No 1): No.1842, 1994 Made: 12th July 1994 Laid Before Parliament: 13th July 1994 Coming into Force: 14th July 1994 Protected area: 100 meters within 52 15.14 N 001 38.53 E

Designation Order: No.2395, 2004 Made: 12th September 2004 Laid before Parliament: 14th September 2004 Coming into force: 5th October 2004 Protected Area: 100 metres within 52 15.1647 N 001 38.4321 E

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

Documentary History: Originally thought to be a Dutch warship lost in the nearby Battle of Sole Bay in 1672, the dating of the cannon to 1554 provides a terminus post quem.

Archaeological History: The Dunwich Bank wreck was discovered in 1993 when a local fisherman found a piece of timber with more than fifty cannonballs embedded in it. Further searches at the site by the Suffolk Underwater Studies Unit revealed further wreck material and a bronze cannon which was recovered.

This area of the Suffolk coastline is subject to erosion caused by subsidence and southward longshore sediment movement caused by dominant north-easterly wave action. The submerged medieval settlement of Dunwich lies to the north-west of the Dunwich Bank site. The seabed comprises two distinct layers, which may possibly be further broken down. The artefacts are located in a hard, stony, lower layer, in which the extensive presence of cobbles and boulders has been recorded, (suggested as possible ballast). Above this layer is a fairly level layer of very soft silt and mixed coarse and fine sand, apparently subject to extensive erosion and re-deposition.

The main site consists of a small steep-sided wreck mound, surrounded by a scatter of bronze muzzle-loading guns, iron muzzle and breech-loading guns, and various concretions, no more than 650 square metres in extent. Beyond the main site there are a number of shallow depressions within a seabed which is otherwise flat, and appear to indicate the presence of modern debris.

Six pieces of cast bronze muzzle-loading smooth bore ordnance have been recorded on the site by SUS, of which three were located and positioned by both the ADU and WA, and a fourth was salvaged in 1994. This is identified as a Flemish Saker, considered to be cast about 1536-40, and is now on display at Dunwich Museum

The fact that two extant guns of this age have been found on this site is a likely indicator of a 16th century wreck, rather than a Dutch warship involved in the Battle of Sole Bay in 1672, on the grounds that it was rare for Dutch warships to have a gun of this age on board, much less two. However, although the high value of bronze guns would normally preclude their deliberate jettison, an exception may be made for the occasion of a grounded vessel, from which guns would have been heaved overboard in order to lighten [and thereby recover] the vessel.

The recovered gun is thought to have been in the first quarter of its service life, likely to have been cast around 1536 to 1540, within an overall range of 1536 to 1556. This would suggest 1556 as a terminus post quem for the deposit of the gun. A date range of 1536 to 1700 has been suggested, with the greatest likelihood of the loss having occurred 1536-1636. The "working hypothesis" would restrict the date range to about 1536 to 1600, given the fact that at least three of the guns appear to be associated with the same maker.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
AMIE - Wrecks


Books and journals
'International Journal of Nautical Archaeology' in International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, (), 21-32
Dunwich Bank, Suffolk: Designated Site Assessment: Archaeological Report, April 2006


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.

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: 1994/1842

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].