Swash Channel Wreck Artefacts

Thanks to generous donations, MAST is funding the conservation of three 17th century wooden ships’ carvings and a canister that was also found on the Swash Channel wreck. As seen on the BBC’s The One Show on April 6, both the carvings and the canister are rare survivals that would normally have been destroyed in the wrecking process or swept away.

They were raised in August 2010. The three carvings were found directly above the gunports in the bowcastle and are in extremely good condition. They bring the number of carvings found on the site to five.

One is on the head of the rudder and is that of a moustached male head surmounted by a laurel wreath. A carving of a merman was situated at the forward edge of the structure, buried face down. The fifth carving, that of another merman, is currently being conserved.

They all are early Baroque in style, which matches the early 17th century date of the site and those of the wreck of the Vasa in Stockholm.

Carvings are very unusual on UK Protected Wreck Sites. There are only two other examples, the wrecks of HMS Colossus (1798) and the Duart Point Protected Wreck Site (1653). All of these are later than the date of the Swash Channel Wreck Site. The carvings present on the site are the earliest known in the UK and amongst the earliest known in the world.

The work will be done by the York Archaeological Trust. Once conserved you will be able to see the artefacts up close at Poole Museum.

Joining these artefacts at York Archaeological Trust is the freshly raised Swash rudder, 8.3 metres long and weighing over 3 tonnes. MAST was closely involved in its excavation.

Along with its impressive moustachioed head, it will be recorded using a Faro Arm before being conserved, using the same process as the smaller carvings. It should be ready to view at Poole Museum by 2017.

Meanwhile, if you would like to see a replica of the rudder head and a number of newly conserved Swash artefacts Poole Museum has just opened a new exhibition.

Dave Parham, Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University with a replica of the Swash Channel Wreck rudder head.

Play with the newly scanned carvings

Here are the scanned images of carvings whose conservation was funded by MAST. They have now been digitally scanned by Geomagic, so you can look at all the angle and close up too.

You just need a version of Adobe Reader which you can download for free.



Daily Echo - Shipwrecked timbers brought
to surface after 400 years
Purbeck magazine

MAST CEO with Dave Parham of Bournemouth
University, Mark Dunkley of English Heritage,
Ian Panter of York Archaeological Trust and the
Undersecretarey of State for Culture, Ed Vaizey

The Swash rudder, in a conservation tank
at York Archaeological Trust


Canister found on the Swash Channel Wreck (Photos Bournemouth University)
Two of the carvings from the Swash Channel Wreck