Heritage Category: Maritime Wreck

List Entry Number: 1000077

Date first listed: 16-Jul-1997

Location Description: Seaton Sands, Seaton Carew, Hartlepool


Ordnance survey chart of SEATON CAREW
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Location Description: Seaton Sands, Seaton Carew, Hartlepool

Marine Location Name: Not applicable to this List entry.

Competent Authority: Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority Ltd

Latitude: 54.65845853

Longitude: -1.18011914

National Grid Reference: NZ 52990 29572


Remains of an eighteenth-century oak English collier brig, believed to have been beached at Seaton Carew during a storm.


The site was first located in August 1996 on the beach at Seaton Carew by a local resident. The beach profile had changed to expose the complete outline of a wooden ship that was not known to even the oldest locals with knowledge of the shoreline. A substantial portion (c.33 per cent) of the original hull survives, which was probably constructed in the middle of the nineteenth-century, or perhaps earlier. The wreck is a rare example of a once common type of trading vessel.


Designation History: Designation Order: (No 2), No 1717, 1997 Made: 16th July 1997 Laid before Parliament: 18th July 1997 Coming into force: 8th August 1997 Protected area: 100 metres within 54 39.50 N 001 10.71 W

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

Documentary History: A search of the Tees Archaeology Maritime Sites and Monuments Record revealed 51 vessels known to have been lost in the vicinity of Seaton Carew, 29 of which were noted as having been stranded or lost on the 11th October 1824 following a particularly violent storm. A possible photograph of the wreck was taken by the Rev. Patterson 1888 - 1890.

It is thought the vessel was wrecked after failing to make Hartlepool or the Tees during a storm, or was deliberately beached to save life in similar conditions, and the possibility of a collision is mooted as a possible explanation for the lower number of extant port frames than starboard frames. Alternatively, breaching the hull on the beach would have made it easier to salvage any coal on board.

There is a lack of evidence about the vessel. Newspaper records make no reference to a wrecked collier off Hartlepool, though the ship's position - pointing up the beach - suggests she was deliberately run ashore when her crew was in danger. Damage to the hull suggests it was battered by storms.

Archaeological History: The site was first located in August 1996 on the beach at Seaton Carew by a local resident. The shifting levels in the foreshore sands had exposed the complete outline of a wooden ship seen for the first time in living memory, which the Archaeological Service for Teesside recognised as being of some antiquity. The vessel is most probably the remains of an east coast collier brig, a ubiquitous trading vessel, the type of which has not previously been identified in the archaeological record in Britain. These types of vessels would have been prolific in nineteenth-century coastal traffic. Dendrochronology may provide an accurate date for its construction but the mid 19th century seems probable. The Archaeological Service for Teesside, in conjunction with volunteers from the Nautical Archaeology Society recorded the substantial exposed remains of the lower third of the hull.

The designated area, as exposed at low water, comprises flat beach sand, and the site is only revealed when sediment levels drop. Remains appear to comprise the lower third of the hull uncovered by the tides in August 1996 and December 2002.

The remains comprise 91 starboard and 71 port frames, and are uniformly truncated at 1.5 metres above sand level, possibly indicating a former beach level. The planks, frames, and ceiling are in good condition and the keelson has steps for two masts, suggesting that the vessel was a brig.

The surviving remains as surveyed in 1996 measured 25.10 metres long x 7.07 metres broad at the widest point, carvel-built and fastened with treenails, with later debris also located at the site. The timbers sampled largely proved to be of oak, although a sprung plank at the bow was elm and a larch ceiling plank were also noted. The hull appears to have had wooden, as opposed to copper, sheathing.


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

Legacy System number: 1312495

Legacy System: AMIE - Wrecks


Books and journals
'Independent' in Independent, (2002)

End of official listing