WEST BAY

Overview

Heritage Category:
Maritime Wreck
List Entry Number:
1000083
Date first listed:
17-Jul-2005
Location Description:
West of the Outer Pollock Reef, off West Bay, Dorset

Chart

Ordnance survey chart of WEST BAY
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

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

Location Description:
West of the Outer Pollock Reef, off West Bay, Dorset
Latitude:
50.70406664
Longitude:
-2.77846669
National Grid Reference:
SY 45124 89670

Summary

The remains of a cargo vessel, thought to date after 1627, which foundered west of the Outer Pollock Reef, off West Bay. Cannon from the site indicate that she was may have been armed; a bronze gun is thought to date between 1627 and 1750 at the latest, although clearly 1750 is not a terminus ante quem for the date of the wreck. An alternative interpretation is that the guns were scrap metal. She is thought to have been laden with iron bars and with ballast thought to have originated in south-western England or northern France.

History

Assessment in 2005 determined that the site consists of a low mound of heavily concreted iron bars containing a heavily concreted iron gun as well as a possible seventeenth-century muzzle-loading bronze gun of European or Eastern origin. The remains lie in approximately 12m of water and the surrounding seabed comprises generally fine sand although the iron bar mound lies on an area of large cobbles.


Analysis of hard slate and quartzite (ballast?) samples recovered from this area suggests a derivation from south-west England or Northern France. The presence of the large quantity of iron bars does suggest that they formed part of a cargo and it is thought that the site may comprise the remains of a merchant vessel. The dating of the site is reliant on the bronze gun which is considered to be no later than 1750, but perhaps as early as 1627.

Details

Designation History: Designation Order: No 1974, 2005 Made: 17th July 2005 Laid before Parliament: 19th July 2005 Coming into force: 20th July 2005 Protected area: 50 metres within 50 42.244 N 002 46.708 W

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

Documentary History: The identity of the wreck is currently unknown and the known documentary evidence does not provide a good match for the identity of this vessel as there is little matching evidence. (2)

Archaeological History: The wreck was discovered in 2004 by recreational divers from a local sub-aqua club diving on the reef and reported to the Dorset Coast Forum. The following year, assessment concluded that the wreck is most likely seventeenth-century (with dating being reliant on a bronze gun in situ), thought to date from as early as 1627 and no later than 1750. The date is thought unlikely to fall outside the range 1550 to 1750 if the guns found were carried as armament, although the range can be extended forward 100 years to c.1850 if they were cargo. The bronze gun is thought to be a falcon and was probably cast in the period 1550 to 1700 and is of European or eastern origin.

A large quantity of iron bars found on the site indicates that they were cargo, and the remains may therefore represent a cargo vessel, or be a cargo dump. The relative disposition of the iron bars suggests that they are still in the same relative position as when packed in the vessel, suggesting that they were lost with the vessel, rather than jettisoned in extremis. Some hard slate and quartzite samples from the gravel within the mound may represent ballast.

The wreck is thought to have been lost as a result of being embayed on a lee shore, or attempting to enter or depart West Bay Harbour in adverse weather conditions.

The site may have been more deeply buried in the past, supported by the fact that the local diving community appeared to be unaware of the wreck until 2004. The uncovering of the site may be due to any or all of the following factors: a step change in the level of the sand to the north-east, modern onshore activity such as recent harbour improvements, and exceptional storm waves causing short-term erosion.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number:
1437873
Legacy System:
AMIE - Wrecks

Sources

Other
April 2006, West Bay, Dorset: Undesignated Site Assessment: Final Report,

Legal

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: 2005/1974

End of official listing

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