Unknown Wreck Site off Eastbourne


Heritage Category:
Maritime Wreck
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Located some 14km south-east of Beachy Head.


Ordnance survey chart of Unknown Wreck Site off Eastbourne
© 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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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Located some 14km south-east of Beachy Head.
Marine Location Name:
National Grid Reference:


A wooden wreck site associated with cannon, galley bricks, concreted objects, large dressed stone blocks, and the probable base of a copper cauldron.

Reasons for Designation

The unidentified wooden wreck site off Eastbourne is designated as a Protected Wreck for the following principal reasons:

* Historical importance: the discovery of an assemblage of at least five previously undisturbed bronze cannon is a rare occurrence. The association of other material provides an initial interpretation that this wreck comprises the remains of a C17 Dutch vessel.
* Archaeological importance: The recent discovery of this wreck is suggestive of a long period of burial which indicates the possible presence of a range of small finds and organic material. In addition the bronze cannon and other artefacts exposed on the seabed remain vulnerable to uncontrolled salvage and theft.


The wreck was first identified in Easter 2019 when a dive charter, based out of Eastbourne, took two divers out to dive an unidentified obstruction recorded by the UK Hydrographic Office. During this dive, bronze cannon were observed on the seabed.

On 29 and 30 April 2019, the charter returned to the site with members of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) to explore the wreck in more detail. In a verbal report made to Historic England, the NAS confirmed the presence of at least five bronze cannon (possibly seven), some of which had markings on them. Divers also saw at least 8 iron cannons as well as galley bricks, miscellaneous concreted objects, large dressed stone blocks and the probable base of a copper cauldron.

Initial assessment, based on the cannon and galley brick morphology, indicates that the wreck may be of C17 Dutch origin, perhaps associated with either the Battle of Portland (1652) or the Battle of Beachy Head (1690); documentary research is on-going. If the wreck does represent the remains a former Dutch vessel, then it remains in the ownership of the Government of The Netherlands.

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) record for the wreck indicates that it was first recorded in July 2015, perhaps suggestive of a long period of burial and the presence of small finds and organic material. The UKHO survey data records the wreck extending across an area 37m x 15m and comprises a strong magnetic anomaly (most likely due to the presence of iron cannon and other ferrous artefacts).

The lack of a NRHE record for the wreck site confirms that this is a new discovery. Such sites, particularly where bronze cannon are observed on the seabed, are particularly vulnerable to uncontrolled salvage and theft.


Designation Order: 1068, 2019 Made: 1 July 2019 Laid before Parliament: 4 July 2019 Coming into force: 5 July 2019.

Protected area: 100 metres within 50.65043, 0.39670.

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


Books and journals
Bender, J (Author), Dutch Warships in the Age of Sail 1600 - 1714, (2014)
McDonald, K, A Diver Guide, Dive Sussex, (2003)


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: 2019/1068

End of official listing

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