Experts visit YAT’s Resource Centre to examine part of a 17th Century warship.
York Archaeological Trust’s Conservation Team are currently in the process of conserving a gun carriage dating back to 1665. Part of the warship HMS London, which exploded off Southend-on-Sea in Essex, the item has been remarkably well preserved for the last 350 years laying on the sea bed. It was recovered from the Thames Estuary by Historic England, along with Cotswold Archaeology and divers, in August, and was transported to York for year-long conservation work in YAT’s Resource Centre.
Conservation experts, archaeologists and an ordnance specialist visited York Archaeological Trust’s Resource Centre on Huntington Road to view the artefact.
Alison James, maritime archaeologist with Historic England, said it was an exciting find.
She said: “Our work is looking at how the gun carriage works. These things don’t exist out there; it’s a really rare opportunity to study it. It’s incredibly rare. As far as we’re aware it’s the only 17th Century gun carriage anywhere that’s been under water on the sea bed and recovered. We have also got all the gunners’ implements to make cannon fire which were found next to it. It’s a real snapshot into the work that went on firing the cannon.”
Alison said the majority of the carriage was well preserved as it lay below the silt of the sea bed, and the carriage may be put on display after restoration before it is moved to Southend-on-Sea next year.
She said: “It’s absolutely beautiful. The wood is in excellent condition, you can see where it’s been exposed and the parts that have attracted organisms, but that’s only the very top of the carriage. Below that, it’s in as good a condition as it was 350 years ago. You can see the maker’s mark.”
Ian Panter, Head of Conservation at York Archaeological Trust who will be leading the conservation, commented, “Its really exciting to be working on a complete and intact gun carriage dating from Cromwell’s time. I’ve conserved fragments of gun carriage over the years, but this is my first complete one in over 35 years in the profession.”