Unknown Wreck (GAD8; previously known as the 'Goodwins Cannon Site')


Heritage Category: Maritime Wreck

List Entry Number: 1401982

Date first listed: 03-Aug-2012

Location Description: The Downs, 2.04km east of Deal, Kent.


Ordnance survey chart of Unknown Wreck (GAD8; previously known as the 'Goodwins Cannon Site')
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Location Description: The Downs, 2.04km east of Deal, Kent.

Marine Location Name: Coastal Waters

Latitude: 51.23278300

Longitude: 1.43348300

National Grid Reference: TR3979153779


Diving investigations in 2010 revealed that the site consists of a scatter of at least seven pieces of cast iron ordnance, a central concretion mound and a section of previously unseen coherent timber structure. The preservation of the timber structure was noted to be good and the observations on the stratigraphy of the site suggests that there is the potential for additional well-preserved structure to exist buried beneath the seabed. The site appears to be the remains of an armed wooden sailing vessel dated to between 1650 and 1750.

Additional evidence, both archaeological and documentary, is required in order to make any definitive claims regarding the identification of this site. Based on the current level of evidence, it is unclear whether this was a naval vessel, an armed merchant ship or another type of armed vessel. The possibility also remains that the site may represent the remains of an unarmed vessel carrying ordnance as cargo.

Reasons for Designation

The unidentified wreck known as GAD8 is a Protected Wreck Site for the following principal reason:

* Archaeological Importance: the site appears to be the remains of an armed wooden sailing vessel dated to between 1650 and 1750. The remains of boats and ships dating to between 1500 and 1815 are extremely rare; the majority of boats and ships from this period can be expected to be of special interest.


The site had been subject to brief diving investigations by Wessex Archaeology in 2003 and 2009, though these were not in sufficient detail to interpret the wreck. The site has also been dived by a local diver who has suggested that the wreck may be the remains of the Carlisle, a Fourth Rate ship of the line which exploded in 1700.


Designation History: Designation Order: 2012 No. 1807 Made: 10th July 2012 Laid before Parliament: 11th July 2012 Coming into force: 3rd August 2012 Protected area: 50 metres within 51 13.96698 N, 01 26.00898 E

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

Archaeological History: an as yet unquantified amount of coherent timber structure was found at the north-west of the site; it appears that such material has not been observed on this site. Following limited sediment clearance, the exposed area of structure visible at the conclusion of diving operations in 2010 measured 0.7m x 4.4m. However, this was not the complete extent of the timber and it is possible that a significant amount of additional timber remains buried beneath the seabed.

Seven pieces of ordnance were observed on the site during the 2010 diving operations. These guns, identified as cast iron smooth bore muzzle loaders, were heavily concreted and varied in alignment.

The sediment coverage on the site is composed of compact sandy gravel. The divers reported that this became more compact with depth and was relatively difficult to clear. The excavation of a test pit in the north of the site demonstrated that in places there was up to 0.5m of sediment covering timber surfaces. The relative lack of mobility of the sediment would appear to heighten the potential for preservation of artefacts and in situ material on the site.

The timber structure observed was composed of flush laid planking and at least one larger structural timber, thought to be a frame or beam. Additional layers of timber were observed beneath the planking, although these were not sufficiently exposed to be identifiable during this investigation. The exposed structure is likely to represent part of the hull or deck of the vessel, although further investigation is required to state this with certainty. Fragments of timber recovered from a small test pit excavated in the north west of the site were found to have an almost decorative appearance and were thought to represent a window or door frame or moulding for panelling. It is therefore possible that elements of internal ship structure may be preserved on the site.

A limited amount of artefactual evidence was recovered from this site following exploratory excavation of test pits. One of the artefacts, a glass bottle neck dating from 1650 to 1750 was found at a depth of 0.3m and illustrates the potential for further artefacts to exist buried under seabed sediments.


Books and journals
Lavery, B, The Ship of the Line Volume I: The Development of the Battlefleet 1650-1850, (1983), 164
Roger, N, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815, (2004)
Wessex Archaeology, Unknown Site (GAD 8), The Downs, Kent, February 2011,

End of official listing