Archaeology probe on cannons ship wreck off Northumberland

The Farne Islands site will be one of the projects outlined on Saturday at the North East Maritime & Coastal Archaeology conference in Newcastle

Peta Knott with the Tyneside divers
Peta Knott with the Tyneside divers

Investigations into a “guns galore” shipwreck off Northumberland will be revealed as marine archaeologists gather on Tyneside.

The Gun Rocks wreck site off the Farne Islands has been know to divers for years .

Now they have worked with Wessex Archaeology’s dive unit, which is examining wreck sites for English Heritage.

The Farne Islands site will be one of the projects outlined on Saturday at the North East Maritime & Coastal Archaeology conference in Newcastle.

The event, being organised by the North East Maritime Archaeology Forum and the North region of the Council for British Archaeology, starts at 10am at the Castlegate building in Melbourne Street.

Tickets are £8 and can be booked on 091 211 6218 or on the door.

Since the 18th Century, local stories had told how a ship with many cannon had fallen foul of the Gun Rocks in the Farne Islands.

A cannon recovered from the site in the 18th Century is on display at Bamburgh Castle and is called the Armada gun in the belief that is came from one of the Spanish warships.

But the Armada has been ruled out in the probe by Wessex Archaeology and divers from the Tyneside BSAC 114 group.

A Wessex Archaeology diver examines one of the cannons
A Wessex Archaeology diver examines one of the cannons
 

Peta Knott is a marine archaeologist and diver with Wessex Archaeology, who will be describing the Gun Rocks project at the conference.

She said that 19 cannon have been located at the site but it is thought that the ship carried around 40.

It is believed that the vessel was a trading ship from Northern Europe and that because many of the guns were damaged, they had been carried as ballast.

Peta has also been investigated wrecked First World War U-boats in the English Channel.

Kevin Straford, of the Marine Archaeology Sea Trust, will talk on the Bamburgh Castle beach wreck, which was reported in The Journal.

Tests on the wooden remains in the intertidal zone of Bamburgh Castle beach show that the vessel dates from the 18th Century and that oak, larch and elm were used in its construction.

John Buglass, who runs John Buglass Archaeological Services, will speak on his project to collect graffiti messages left on marine and coastal sites.

On the lead roof of the tower of a 17th Century church overlooking Filey Bay, John has recorded more than 30 representations of ships,

John, who is appealing for examples of historic graffiti from the North East, said: “ They represent fsacinating pieces of social history and are very vulnerable to loss.”

The cannon at Bamburgh Castle which comes from the wreck
The cannon at Bamburgh Castle which comes from the wreck
 

Anthony Firth will speak about work carried out for English Heritage on the East Coast War Channels used by shipping in the First and Second World Wars.

“A great deal of effort was directed to organising and defending the War Channels. With such a concentration of shipping, the War Channels became a major focus of German activity in the North Sea,” he said.

Clive Waddington will also give a presentation on his dig earlier this year on a prehistoric site at Low Hauxley on Druridge Bay in Northumberland, which was also reported in The Journal.

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