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Dunwich Bank

Location: Near Southwold, Suffolk
Age / period: post medieval (second half of the 16th century)
List entry number: 1000073
Reason for designation: rarity and archaeological significance
Depth: about 11m

Wreck history and loss

Once suggested to be a casualty of the Battle of Sole Bay 1672, this site is now believed to be the remains of a 16th century armed merchant vessel or possibly a rare example of an early military transport vessel. No ship structure or items such as ballast are currently visible although it is possible that they may be buried in sediments around the site. At present objects in the site consist of iron concretions either fully exposed or partially buried, centred on a small mound, and another discreet group nearby.

Bronze Gun
Detail of bronze gun recovered from the Dunwich Bank site © NMR

Discovery and investigation

The site was discovered in 1993 when a Southwold fisherman brought up ship timbers and concreted shot in his trawl. He informed local diver and amateur archaeologist Stuart Bacon, who dived on the site in 1994 and found a bronze gun. The gun was subsequently raised and treated at the nearby Sizewell Power station. It has provided a great deal of information, including the possible date of the vessel.

The site was consequently designated in 1994 and a detailed sketch plan of the remaining objects has been produced by Suffolk Underwater Studies.


The recovered cannon is thought to be of a type produced by Remigy de Halut of the Spanish Netherlands between 1536 and 1556. The gun was studied by ordnance expert Rudi Roth and is now on display at the Royal Armouries. The possible longevity of the weapon gives a date for the wreck of within 100 years of 1556. Recently a stone object, possibly a quern stone, has also been recorded on the site.

Further work

In recent years magnetometer and swath bathymetry surveys of the site have been undertaken as a basis for monitoring the area. Additionally the wreck is visited on a regular basis.

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