Skip to comments.N.C. shipwreck speculated to be ghost of 1609
Posted on 06/04/2010 5:30:16 PM PDT by csvset
A shipwreck exposed on the beach by winter storms could date to a time of commerce between England and Jamestown in the early 1600s.
Possibly the oldest known wreck on the North Carolina coast, the timbers and construction of the ship are very similar to the Sea Venture, the 1609 flagship of seven vessels that carr ied people and supplies to Jamestown, said Bradley A. Rodgers, a professor of archaeology and conservation in the maritime studies program at East Carolina University.
Remains of the Sea Venture rest off the Bermuda coast after it ran aground there in 1609 during a storm.
The wreck at Corolla grabbed attention after it was exposed following November nor'easters. On April 6, crews from the Wildlife Resources Commission, the Corolla fire department and residents hoisted it from the sand and dragged it on a sled to the lot near the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.
North Carolina underwater archaeologists and maritime history experts as well as students from ECU have since documented, sampled and measured the 12-ton wreck.
Plans are to transport it 90 miles down N.C. 12 to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Maritime Museum in Hatteras for display.
"It has a very unusual design," Rodgers said. "We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw that thing."
Now, an ECU graduate student will take on the historical research as part of his thesis, Rodgers said. D etails might be found in the United Kingdom's Public Record Office, Rodgers said.
"It's going to be a detective story now," Rodgers said. "He's going to have to follow every lead he can."
The ship is relatively large and probably carried valuable cargo.
"It may not be that hard to find something on this," Rodgers said. "It would have been a tough loss for whatever company sponsored it."
If found, records would show the name of the sponsoring company, names of officers, cargo, destination and possibly where and how it wrecked, Rodgers said.
Two months ago, researchers believed this wreck could be the HMS Swift, a British ship about 70 feet long and 16 feet wide that ran aground off Point Comfort in the Chesapeake Bay in 1698. Currents might have carried the ship southward.
A a closer look showed this ship was much larger, possibly 80 to 110 feet long and 30 to 35 feet wide, Rodgers said. Timbers were made from trees cultivated to bend for use in a shipbuilding style known as compass framing. The timbers, curved upward to form the ship's sides.
After 1650, builders used compound framing, connecting shorter sections of straight beams to form the curve of the ship.
The shipwreck is made entirely of wood without iron fasteners, another indicator of earlier origins. Tests on the timbers show the outer frame is made from oak. Other timbers appear to be made of an older wood such as chestnut, Rodgers said.
Residents Roger Harris and Ray Midgett found coins from the early 1600s encrusted on the timbers. Three fleur-de-lis symbols are visible on one side, but the bust of King Louis XIII on the other side is worn away. Midgett found a coin stamped 1603.
In his Manteo office Wednesday, Harris placed a ruler next to the penny-size, copper-colored coin for a measurement. "If you put it on a metric scale, it's right at 19-1/2 millimeters," he said.
According to his research, that is exactly the size this coin is supposed to be. Harris and Midgett found the coins stuck to the exterior of a concretion, a mass of encrusted materials about the size of a basketball.
Harris also found other items near the wreck, including a small metal wax seal stamp with the initials "T.M.," a skeleton key and a star-shaped rowel of a horseback rider's spur.
X-rays showed the concretion also held small cannon grape shot and straight pins, said Nathan Henry, a state underwater archaeologist. The rest of the ship's story will have to come from research by the ECU team, he said.
Jeff Hampton, (252) 338-0159, firstname.lastname@example.org
More pictures at the source link.
I am sure this “graduate student” is due for at least 10 years of government grants to “study” this wreck.
Looks like the guy is taking a huge pee.
Interesting. (Good video at site.)
Only the most incredibly brave set off in ships for Virginia.
Preserving our history and heritage is one of the more benign uses of taxpayer dollars.
He probably won't find much there, a better bet would be the National Maritime Museum, although the pickings are pretty thin for a merchant vessel of this era.
Kakkylakky Del Norte PING
Wow. How cool.
Get it up and out before the oil slick hits its and reduces any chance of recovery or restoration.
Thanks csvset.the timbers and construction of the ship are very similar to the Sea Venture, the 1609 flagship of seven vessels that carried people and supplies to JamestownTo all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·
Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for the Ping!
Wow! I could have had a relative aboard that ship. Family records show that an ancestor came to Virginia on the First Supply in 1607-08. Nobody knows what happened to him, but his daughter came a few years later to claim his estate, married, and founded our line. The bones of that hulk are beautiful.
Based on the pictures they sure don’t have a lot to start with. Best of luck to these guys working on this.
Thank you csvset!
Thanks for posting the picture.
I’ll look at the others.
My pleasure. I forgot my usual “shiver me timbers”, but that’s a break for everyone.
WOW. Thanks. I love this stuff!
Back in the late 70s, I spent many an hour 4-wheeling up the coast from Duck to Corolla. Back then, you had to drive on the beach at low tide to even get to Corolla. I remember seeing a few shipwrecks along the way. One in particular was obviously modern, but the were some wooden beams to be seen in a couple of places.
The Sea Venture, which may have been a sister ship.
En route to Virginia the Sea Venture ran into a hurricane. As the ship foundered they spotted Bermuda, got as close as possible and ran aground. All survived. Bermuda produced plenty of food and over the months they built two small ships. They sailed to Virginia, only to stumble in on the end of the Starving Time. They decided to return to England, but as they were departing they encountered the new governor and resupply ships, so they changed their minds. Among them was John Rolfe, who had the precious stolen Spanish tobacco seeds that would lead to the tobacco boom and the success of the Virginia colony.
Those who remained behind in Bermuda lead to that British colony.
Thanks for the additional info.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.