Volunteers who were busy searching for World War II pillboxes in Whitstable, Kent, received a huge shock after they ended up finding a Tudor shipwreck in mudflats instead. The discovery was made at Tankerton Beach with the wreck of the ship found to measure approximately 40 feet (12 meters) in length.
Historic England, a government heritage agency that works hard to ensure that such artifacts are preserved, was swiftly alerted to the discovery and the shipwreck has now been officially designated as a protected site, as Sky reports. The ship is especially important as it is the only shipwreck from the medieval era in the southeast of England that has managed to survive.
The volunteers who discovered the wreck were all part of Timescapes, an archaeological group that specializes in local history. Their first sighting of the remains of the ship came after they noticed pieces of timber jutting out of the beach beside exploded concrete.
Mark Harrison, the director of Timescapes, described the moment when volunteers first discovered the medieval shipwreck, explaining that he has high hopes that its excavation will reveal more details about its rich history.
“Our group of volunteers was looking for exploded World War II pillboxes along the Kent coast. Adjacent to a lump of exploded concrete, we were amazed to see the timbers of a ship appearing out of the sand. We reported the find to Historic England and are pleased that what turned out to be a medieval wreck has been given protection and that this excavation could tell us more about its story.”
After archaeologists analyzed some of the pieces of timber from the ship, they learned that one of the samples came from an oak tree that was chopped down in the south of England in 1531. Other pieces of oak that were dated were found to have been felled sometime during the 16th century.
The construction of the hull itself shows that it was a single-masted merchant ship of the kind that would have sailed towards the end of the 16th century and edging into the early 17th century.
A large excavation of the Tudor shipwreck is scheduled to begin this week, and archaeologists from Timescapes are hopeful that they will be able to glean more information about the type of cargo that would have once sailed upon the ship.
According to Duncan Wilson, who is the chief executive of Historic England, for those who are interested in catching a glimpse of the medieval ship, its location is such that it is fully visible for all to see.
“Many of the ships that Historic England protects are accessible only to divers but when the sands shift and the tide is right, visitors to Kent can catch a glimpse of this incredible wreck.”
Michael Ellis, the minister of Heritage, remarked that this exciting discovery will give archaeologists more information about what life would have been like for those sailing upon this medieval ship several centuries ago.
“The Tankerton wreck is a marvelous discovery that will give us another opportunity to uncover more about what life at sea was like hundreds of years ago. It is important that we protect it to learn more about our impressive maritime history and ensure that it is preserved for future generations.”
With the excavation of the Tudor shipwreck set to commence very soon, archaeologists should have more information soon about the magnificent history of this ancient ship that was discovered by accident in Kent.