The Gresham Ship

It’s not every day that an Elizabethan shipwreck is driven across middle England and dropped into a lake in Leicestershire, but that’s exactly what happened in the last week of May 2012. It was certainly be a day to remember at the Stoney Cove National Diving Centre, where the substantial remains of the 16th-century “Gresham Ship” was finally laid to rest.

Since sinking in the River Thames over 400 years ago, the ship has travelled many miles. It was rediscovered in 2003 by the Port of London Authority while they were clearing a navigation channel, and so they called in the archaeologists. A gun from the wreck bore the insignia of Sir Thomas Gresham (1500-1579) on the barrel, while tree ring analysis of the hull timbers suggested the ship had been built in or just after AD 1574. The team from Wessex Archaeology and the Maritime Archaeology Programme, led by Dr Jens Auer, recorded the astonishing find partially on the sea bed and then on dry land, once the five huge sections of the hull had been raised.

Now laid out in its new home at Stoney Cove, the shipwreck is the star attraction in a museum display with a twist;

this one is 6 metres underwater. The remains represent that most exciting period of Elizabethan seafaring, exploration and adventure, the age of Drake, Frobisher, Seymour and Hawkins. But it is more than that, for it will also serve as a major focus for training the next generation of nautical archaeologists, as the Nautical Archaeological Society expands its pioneering educational role with the development of a unique “underwater classroom”.

The Gresham Ship is a precious museum artefact, enjoy looking at it but please give it the respect it deserves and don’t damage or interfere with it.

See the Gresham's story on Youtube, see a 3d rendering of the wreck site produced by the Brian Minehane, from images taken by Martin Davies, or download Dr Jens Auer's project report.

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