This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Church Rocks

Location: east of Teignmouth, Devon
Age / period: late 16th, early 17th century
List entry number: 1000064
Depth: 3-4m

Wreck history and loss

The site comprises the stern and lower starboard side of a lightly armed merchantman and a variety of metal and ceramic objects. The identity of the vessel is unknown but both the objects and the ship structure itself probably date the wreck to the 16th century or possibly early 17th century.

The oak, carvel-built vessel is of a type indicative of a Mediterranean origin.This is supported by the associated artefacts which include a Venetian cannon bearing the initials SA (presumably of the Venetian Alberghetti family, similar to the one from Yarmouth roads) and ceramics. Venetian trade with south coast ports is documented during this period.

Discovery and investigation

The site was discovered by a snorkeller off Teignmouth in 1975. Following a particularly stormy winter, the wreck had become exposed. Several cannons were salvaged from the site revealing the possible early date of the vessel and leading to designation in 1977.

A campaign of survey and excavation was conducted up until 1983, and again between 1989 and 1995. During these periods a variety of objects were recovered from the site and a detailed record was made of the ship structure. The archaeological work was summarised in an article in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology in 1993.


The finds included six bronze cannon and a number of copper alloy objects including a cooking pot, a steelyard weight, a caulking pot and a seal. Additionally the excavation uncovered a lead sounding weight, an iron adze, a hammer head, two iron knives, a wrought iron hook, ships nails, ordnance parts and a range of ceramics.

Much of this material is now on display at the local Teignmouth museum. One cannon is held in the Tower of London armoury collection and the Venetian gun is held by English Heritage at St. Mawes Castle, Cornwall.

Further work

At present the site is buried in up to 1.5 metres of sand and is monitored regularly for exposure. Sonar and magnetometer surveys conducted in the past provide a basis for assessing movement. Information from this site has been published by Preece and Burton in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Was this page helpful?