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Location: Estuary of the River Plym, Plymouth
Age / period: Early 16th century
List entry number: 1000065
Reason for designation: rarity / archaeological significance
Depth: 8m

Wreck history and loss

This site is made up of part of the keelson from what appears to be an early 16th century armed merchantman and associated artefacts. Work conducted on the vessel suggested that the ship was of 200-300 tonnes burden and was lost around 1530.

Discovery and investigation

The site was discovered in 1973 after a dredger brought up some timber and the fragments of two guns. A survey was initiated by the National Maritime Museum and the Cattewater wreck was the first site to be designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) in September 1973.

The Cattewater wreck committee was established in 1974 under Alan Bax and subsequently the site was partially surveyed and excavated between 1976 and 1978 by a team led by Mark Redknap. This led to the publication of the Cattewater wreck report in 1984 (see further reading).


Around 4.6m of the keelson was recovered, shaped from a single piece of oak, featuring a mast-step, fittings for floor timbers and a pump sump. Artefacts found on board included composite iron guns on carriages or sledges, as well as pottery, wood, leather, rope, nails and animal bones. A radiocarbon date of 1487 was obtained from the hull.

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