An archaeological sensation: what can we learn from the warship that sank in 1682?
Photo: Keystone / Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks / East Anglia University
The royal warship of Gloucester sinks in England in 1682. It was found again over 300 years later. Experts call the find an archaeological sensation – and there are several reasons.
Divers have discovered a legendary 17th-century shipwreck off the coast of the English North Sea. As the University of East Anglia announced on Friday, the royal warship Gloucester, which sank in 1682, also had the later King James II on board when it crashed.
The divers, a private group led by brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, found the wreckage in 2007 after a four-year search on the seabed near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. The discovery of the wreckage, which lies in international waters, was initially kept secret in order to protect it. It also took several years to identify the well-preserved remains as a Gloucester wreck.
In addition to the ship’s wrecked hull, which had half sunk into the seabed, a number of cannons, utensils, cutlery and many other items were found. Some of them still contained unopened wine bottles and their contents, as well as a pair of glasses that were still in a wooden case.
According to experts, the find is an archaeological sensation. “The discovery promises a fundamental change in our understanding of social, maritime and political history,” said Professor Claire Jowitt of the University of East Anglia. It is the most important find in Great Britain since the construction of the ship “Mary Rose” by King Tudor Henry VIII in 1982.
His finds will be on display at the Norwich Castle Museum next spring. The ship’s bell, which ultimately determined the identification of the “Gloucester”, is also to be set up.
Gloucester ran aground in 1682 after a dispute over its course and sank within a short time. Several hundred people lost their lives. The future King James II barely escaped death.