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Brighton Marina

Location: 100m east of marina wall, Brighton
Age / period: 16th century, possibly late 15th century
List entry number: 1000047
Reason for designation: rarity and archaeological significance
Depth: 5-10m

Wreck history and loss

This wreck is the remains of an unidentified armed vessel which probably dates to the 16th century. It may even date to the late 15th century, which would make it one of the oldest shipwrecks known in England, and significant to the evolution of ships during this period.

The site originally consisted of several bronze and iron guns and other artefacts; an exposed ship structure has also been reported in the area on a couple of occasions. The orientation of the debris trail on the site suggests the ship ran aground from west to east.

Discovery and investigation

In 1963 a bronze cannon was recovered from the area by a diver and was acquired by the Royal Armouries. However, the site was identified in 1974 by members of the Black Cat Sub-Aqua Club prior to the designation of the site in 1983. A number of bronze and iron guns and associated material were recovered without archaeological recording.

The Black Cat group surveyed over 3,000 square metres of seabed, both visually and with metal detectors. Additionally, between 1984 and 1989 the Isle of Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (later incorporated into the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology) carried out a pre-disturbance survey, excavation, site stabilisation and monitoring. Some of this has been published in the International Journal for Nautical Archaeology.


One of the wrought iron guns recovered from the wreck site was still attached to its wooden carriage with a twist of hemp in its touch hole and a stone cannon ball in its barrel. As well as both bronze and iron guns, the material associated with the wreck includes stone and iron shot, breech chambers and concretions.

Recent archival research has found that some of the artefacts are in the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth, The Shipwreck Heritage Centre, Hastings and The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, Charlestown.

Further work

An archive and site assessment is currently being carried out by David Parham from the School of Conservation Sciences at Bournemouth University. To date sub-bottom and magnetometer surveys (which measure magnetic fields) of the site have been completed.

Contact has been made with Stan Merralls, the original project leader, and his site records have been added to the site archive. A plan of the site is to be created and some information on the finds originally recovered from the site.

The located material has been recorded with the support of a research grant from the Pilgrim Trust. Additionally support work by the Brighton branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club is being funded by a British Sub-Aqua Jubillee Trust grant and it is hoped that this will form the basis of an NAS Part II project on the site.

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