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.

Yarmouth Roads

Location: Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
Age / period: post medieval (late 16th or early 17th century)
List entry number: 1000044
Reason for designation: rarity and archaeological significance
Depth: 5-6m

Wreck history and loss

This site encompasses the remains of a late 16th or early 17th century merchant carrack, probably of Spanish origin, which may have foundered before reaching the harbour at Yarmouth. It is possible that this is the wreck of the 'Santa Lucia' which was lost in 1567 carrying wool to Flanders and was salvaged soon after by Sir Edward Horsey.

Several separate coherent sections of the ship structure remain on the seabed, and geophysical survey has indicated that at least 2m of structure lay beneath the seabed. These are accompanied by a range of artefacts dating from as early as the mid 16th century up to the mid 19th century, due to an accumulation of more modern debris.

Discovery and investigation

The site was discovered in 1984 during the search for the source of Roman pottery regularly brought to the surface by oyster fishermen's trawls in the area. At this time timbers were visible above the seabed and three pewter plates were recovered.

After designation in 1984 the wreck was surveyed and partially excavated by the Isle of Wight Maritime Heritage Project, some of which has been published in articles. At the conclusion of excavations any structure still visible above the seabed was sandbagged for protection and remains so to the current day.


Artefacts recovered from the wreck during archaeological investigation include an Italian pottery assemblage dating from 1590 to 1620 AD; a large number of metal artefacts including copper alloy scraps, a bronze mortar and a variety of pewter objects such as a candlestick fragment and a collection of spoons. The majority of this metalwork dates to the mid-late 16th century although the spoons seem to be a century older.

Stone shot, a turned wooden component of a lantern were also recovered. A 16th century bronze cannon bearing the initials ZA was recovered from a location near to the wreck site, presumed to be from the wreck. It is thought that ZA is the Italian bronze-founder Zuane Alberghetti and the cannon is similar to the one recovered from the Church Rocks site. This cannon has been published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (IJNA).

Further work

The wreck remains are monitored on a regular basis by both visual survey and multibeam sonar to assess the stability of the site. In 2003 steps were taken to remove objects such as mooring lines and anchors which were illegally placed within the designated area and posed a threat to the wreck remains.

Recent work on the site includes compilation of the paper archive from previous investigations and assessment of the condition of the sandbag protection on the wreck. Funding is currently being sought to produce a full archive assessment for the site and it is hoped that a comprehensive publication will be produced.

Additionally, a display presenting details of the wreck is in place in Yarmouth Castle as part of an English Heritage funded project and video footage is being collected for a visualisation project base at Fort Victoria Maritime Heritage Centre.

Was this page helpful?