Heritage Category:
Maritime Wreck
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Gilstone Ledges, Isles of Scilly


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Location Description:
Gilstone Ledges, Isles of Scilly
Marine Location Name:
National Grid Reference:


Remains of 1707 wreck of British Second Rate Ship of the Line, Association, which foundered after grounding on the Gilstone Rocks, as one of Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s ill-fated fleet, homeward-bound to Portsmouth from Toulon and Gibraltar.

Reasons for Designation

The remains of the Association, a Second Rate warship of 90 guns, ordered in 1695, is a Protected Wreck Site for the following principal reasons:

* Archaeological Importance: the Association comprises the remains of an armed wooden sailing vessel lost in 1707. The majority of boats and ships from this period can be expected to be of special interest.

* Rarity: the remains of boats and ships dating to between 1500 and 1815 are extremely rare;

* Historic Interest: The loss of the Association, other ships of the fleet, and the lives of 1400 sailors, led to the Longitude Act of 1714. The size of the loss remains unparalleled in naval history.


The Association was one of four Second Rate warships of 90 guns ordered in 1695. It was built in Portsmouth Dockyard and launched in 1696 or 1697 (sources differ). None of the other three Second Rates of 1695 (Barfleur, Namur and Triumph) survive archaeologically.

The flagship Association was one of four vessels lost on 22nd October 1707 from a homeward-bound fleet returning from Gibraltar under Sir Cloudesley (Cloudisley, Clowdisley) Shovell, promoted to Admiral of the White in 1702 and appointed Rear-Admiral of England. Another vessel, the Eagle, was lost on the Tearing Ledge close to the Bishop Rock (and is now a Protected Wreck Site). The Romney and Firebrand were also lost. The loss of these vessels, plus the lives of some 1400 sailors, led to the Longitude Act of 1714.

Archaeological History: The remains of the Association were discovered by the Naval Air Command - Sub Aqua Club (NAC - SAC) on the 4th July 1967: artefacts were found to be scattered over a large area of the Gilstone Ledge. A large number were raised, including 3 bronze cannon, swivel guns, dividers, buckles, buttons, spoons, forks, rings, pocket watches, combs and a carpenter's rule made of ebony and brass.

A large amount of coin was recovered from the site, both gold and silver, from France, Belgium, Netherlands and Spanish America, along with English coins from the reigns of Charles I, Charles II, James II and William III. Most of the artefacts and coinage were sold at a series of auctions. Pieces of eight ‘cobs’ and Portuguese reis, along with a silver plate bearing the Shovell and Hill family arms, proof of the vessel's identity, were sold. A carved coat of arms from the wreck now hangs in Penzance Town Hall and one bronze 18lb cannon can be seen on Tresco (Valhalla Collection), while another is at the Royal Armouries.


Designation History: Designation Order: 753 Made: 18th March 2014 Laid before Parliament: 20th March 2014 Coming into force: 21st March 2014 Protected area: 50 metres within 49 51.73 N 006 24.50 W

No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides. The area is covered in crevices and gullies. Large boulders have been moved and explosives used in the search for artefacts, so the topography bears little resemblance to that described when the site was first discovered.

In 1969, the wreck was believed to be in two distinct sites. The site known as 'Cannon Gully', containing huge boulders, was dived on by RAF divers who were instructed not to recover any artefacts. The gullies between the boulders were seen to contain iron cannon balls and grape shot. By 1976, it was observed that there was no wooden structure present. What remains comprises iron cannon, cannon balls, anchors and smaller artefacts scattered in rocky gullies. Notably, most of the recovered coins were found near the iron cannon among boulders in gullies, in depths of 5-43m.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 13/02/2015


Books and journals
Cant, S, England's Shipwreck Heritage: From Logboats to U-Boats, (2013)
Lavery, B, The Ship of the Line Volume I: The Development of the Battlefleet 1650-1850, (1983), 164
Williams, M, Deep Sea Treasure, (1981), 59-81
Biogarphy:Cloudesley Shovell, accessed from


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: Statutory Instrument:

End of official listing

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