The Bamburgh Castle mystery wreck has revealed one further clue as to its identity. Dendrochronology analysis has given a felling date, a terminus post quem for when this ship must have been built (download the reports from this page for more details including possible links to the castle itself.)
A total of 15 samples were obtained for tree ring dating and wood species identification from a shipwreck. Unfortunately no sapwood survives on this sample so the outer ring of 1758 provides the terminus post quem. On the basis of the samples taken, the ship’s construction is characterised by the use of fast grown, low quality (ie often knotty) oak trees suggesting the timber used was not traded from abroad. The use of different species for specific functions is indicated through the use of Larch (Larix spp.) for the mast and Elm (Ulmus spp.) for a pump structure. Should further timbers become exposed, sampling for tree ring analysis could add to the limited information obtained from the single dated timber.
A rarely seen portion of an unknown wreck within the intertidal zone of Bamburgh Castle Beach was reported to MAST by Steve Brown, a PADI Basic Archaeological Diver (BAD) Instructor and local historian. After speaking to English Heritage we decided that this was indeed an unrecorded site and sent a team to conduct a preliminary survey, making use of a spring low tide which allowed for approximately 3 hours of work. The preliminary survey, discussed below, noted all the key dimensions and visible features and gathered some 200 photographs of the site. The survey was conducted by three people, Kevin Stratford (MAST), Jessica Berry (MAST) and Steve Brown (local resident and interested party).
The site lies in the intertidal zone on Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland on the north east coast of England. The beach is made up of fine sand that is well compacted, potentially providing a good level of preservation. The site only appears at certain periods of the tide roughly 1 hour either side of low water slack. The site itself sits within its own scour which, along with the tidal conditions, means that it may never completely dry out.
It appears to contain the exposed remains of the port side of a wooden sailing vessel lying on its starboard side with its stern inshore. The length of the exposed material is 22.5m and the width of the exposed material is 5m.