Introduction

The 2007 field season lasted six weeks, from 27 May to 8 July. 45 people were involved, of whom 30 were divers. 64 items were recovered (see Annex 1 below). An accumulation of sand across the centre of the site and a period of sustained poor weather, made this the most difficult season since work began on the wreck in the early 1990s.

Objectives

The aims of the season were:

a) To continue with the programme of trenching that began in 2005 along the base-line between Datum N and Cannon 1. The purpose of this was to gather data on the extent, nature, disposition and state of preservation of the remains beneath the sand.

b) To continue the programme of sea-bottom conservation on the heavy ordnance. This would involve the replacement of anodes on cannon G1 and G6, and the attachment of an anode to G4.

c) To excavate around cannon G3, G4, and G6 in preparation for the possible lifting of one or two cannon in 2008.

d) To continue the survey of the peripheral zones, particularly to the west.

With regard to recoveries. The terms-of-reference for the season allowed for the removal of ceramic, stone and lead remains, but not materials of an organic of ferrous nature. It was recognized, however, that in exceptional circumstances, the latter might be recovered as long as the excavation director, the conservator, the AMT treasurer and the General Services Committee of the States of Alderney were in full agreement.

Operations

As usual, for planning and logistical reasons, the six week season was divided into three phases each of two weeks. Once fieldwork begins, these phases usually merge into one another, but this year there were major operational differences between them which makes it necessary that each phase be treated as a separate unit.

Phase 1 (27 May to 10 June)

The remains of the wreck are situated within a large, constantly moving sandbank. Sometimes, as in 2006, the mobile nature of the seabed helps operations, at other times it hinders. This year the first divers found a large drift of sand across the centre of the site which was so deep that it completely covered cannon G4 and G6, and Grid 7-9 m on the base line between Datum N and G1.  Against such an overburden the mini-airlifts proved fairly ineffective. Although cannon 4 was found and partially uncovered, the depth of the dune made it impossible to locate cannon G6, which was a concern as it was necessary to ascertain the state of the anode which had been attached to it during the 2006 season.

Grid 7-9 m, which had not been completed in 2006, was also located but little impression was made on it because of the sand. However, several new unattached timbers were exposed and the sand bags which had been put there to protect the grid at the end of the 2006 season, were found to have performed their purpose. 

A detailed examination of cannon G3 was carried out by Chief Diver Roy Restell. G3 has been a source of major concern, ever since it was found to have a number of important artefacts concreted to it. No evidence of vandalism was found. G3 is the most valuable item on the site, and priority must be given to its recovery before there is any theft or damage by rogue divers. To clear the immediate area of remains and establish how the gun might best be slung for lifting in 2008, a new 2 x 2 m grid (designated G3C1) was installed beside its breech (for precise position, see dive-log 2007/32). Grid G3C1 was found to be rich in small concretions and pottery fragments, confirming the view that the cannon tend to act as barriers to the smaller artefacts as they migrate around the site within the sand. 

The anode on G1 was found to be completely spent and was replaced.

In summary, because of seabed conditions and the small size of the team, little progress was made during this phase.

Phase 2 (10 June to 24 June)

The second phase, by contrast with what went before and that which came later, was a period of exceptional achievement. This was made possible by the arrival of  the Cdt Fourcault (gross tonnage 557, length 55 m) a registered ‘search and survey’ ship under the command of its owner, Pim de Rhoodes. The vessel, which is Belgian flagged, was fitted out for scientific diving and carried the latest in magnetometer and side-scan technology.

Despite poor weather, during the time the Cdt Fourcoult was with the project (13 – 23 June), productivity was higher than at any time since work began in the early 1990s. This was for five reasons. First, the addition of the Belgian divers who came with the ship more than doubled the size of the team; second, the sophisticated diving equipment that the vessel carried (rebreathers and nitrox units) permitted longer bottom-times; third, the presence of the ship over the site provided a level of safety-cover that allowed divers to enter the water in conditions which would normally have halted operations; fourth, with the ship on permanent station over the wreck, the team was able to exploit every diving opportunity and even dive at night; fifth, the vessel carried aquascooters, the prop-wash from which was used in specified areas to blow away the overburden. This could be done in a controlled manner by either changing gear or altering the distance between the propeller and the seabed.

The method used to deploy and recover divers from the ship is worth describing, as it is believed that this is the first time such a system has been used in maritime archaeology. Divers would enter the sea by jumping from the ship’s side; once in the water they were transported to the down-line on a sledge that was towed behind one of the ship’s two ribs. On their return to surface, the divers were towed by sledge back to the ship. Once beside the vessel they would roll off the sledge and swim into a ‘stage’ that had been lowered into the water by a hydraulic crane. Once the divers were in a standing position within the stage, they were winched back on to the main-deck. The speed and simplicity of the method minimized waiting times, physical effort and exposure to cold, all of which have a significant cumulative effect on the team when operating from small boats out of the harbour.

During this period cannon 6 was quickly located and, along with cannon 4 and 5, was fully exposed and excavated.  Observations were taken on how these cannon might eventually be moved without risk of damage to any artefacts attached to them. 

The area between cannon G3 and G5 was also excavated resulting in the discovery of a very small wooden flask for priming powder (1507). Because of its delicate nature it was recovered for conservation. A musket and breastplate were also found; these were reburied on the seabed as their conservation was a complex matter that required thought and discussion. During the course of excavating between G3 and G5, it was found that the distance between the two guns had altered since measurements were first taken in the 1990s. Some of the guns are resting on sand rather than bedrock, and thus, with the kind of severe scouring that sometimes occurs, it is perhaps not surprising that, over time, there is some movement.

Elsewhere on the site, in addition to the usual sherds and concretions, an apostle, a helmet, a possible piece of bar shot (or expanding shot) and the remains of the bosun’s pipe was found. The latter featured a curved tube that was reminiscent of an example found on theMary Rose.

The excavation of Grid 9 – 7 m along base-line N/G1 was also completed, as was the area adjacent, Grid 7 – 5 m. Exploratory work was also conducted within this general zone that demonstrated an increase in the density of wreck remains (particularly broken timbers) as one moves along the base-line towards G1. This area of concentration spreads crescent-like along the northern perimeter, 6 to 8 m either side of the base line. The depth and full nature of the timbers and other remains within this area have not yet been determined, but for the first time a picture is beginning to emerge of the distribution of materials beneath the sand. Clearly this is an area which contains much information that is essential for the progress of the project.

Phase 3 (24 June to 8 July)

The final phase, from beginning to end, was characterized by persistent bad weather. Only three dives were possible, during which nothing of significance was achieved.  Because of conditions it was impossible to attach an anode to cannon G4.

Summary of results

A total of 64 artefacts were recovered the great majority of which were pottery fragments. A further 12 items were tagged and left in the depot on the seabed. The positions of all the recovered artefacts were plotted on to the site-plan. The most notable recoveries of the season were: deadeye (1504), small wooden powder flask (1507) and the remains of a bosun’s pipe (1501).

Trenching was completed along the base-line between Datum N and G1.

Cannon G3, G4, G5 and G6 were fully excavated and prepared for eventual recovery.

Little progress was made in the situ conservation of new cannon.

No significant progress was made on the planned survey of some of the peripheral areas.

Website

A redesigned and much expanded website went live in May immediately prior to the commencement of the season. See www.alderneywreck.com.

Satellite reconnaissance

Satellite reconnaissance carried out by Tim Acres has revealed some potentially important wreck remains in the near vicinity of the Elizabethan wreck exclusion zone.

Team

In alphabetical order: Tim Acres, Jan Bechers, Tristan Bolton, Chris Bond, Jull Bosschaert, Mensun Bound, Philip Claes, Mike Corfield, Ivan Daugniet, Ross Davidson, Dirk de Bie, Pim and Angel de Roodes, Phil Donaldson, Bryan Elliot, Andrew Fewster, Mike Harrisson, John Hodges, Robin King, Keith Langribge, Elaine le Claire, Sue McGrady, Gabriel Matthy, Danny Moens, Hansch Mol, Phil Murry, Roland Neal, Ian Oakshett, Lee Oselton, Terry Ozanne, Al Paton, Hugo Pickering, Phil and Christine Rees, Mary Restell, Roy Restell, Russell Sandford, Fred Shaw, Ann Smith, Bryan Smith, Ronald Struyf, Mark Trowell, Dave Venn, Steven Wouters and Steve Wright.

Acknowledgements

The Alderney Maritime Trust is indebted to the following people and organizations (in alphabetical order):  Sue Able, Nick Allsworth, Peter Arnold, Sarah Chaddock, Louis and Carolyne Jean, Pim and Angel de Rhoodes, Rosemary Hanbury, Richard Johnson, Bruno Kay-Mouat, Jason Monaghan, Don Oakden, Ian Panter, Al and Hillary Paton, Andy Pickering, John and Bridget Postlethwaite, Helen Pringle, Pat and Royston Raymond, John Russel, Fred Shaw, Steve Shaw, Jim Spriggs, David Thornburrow, Robin Whicker, Tess Woodnutt, Mark Wordsworth, the Alderney Dive Club, the Director and staff of the Alderney Harbour Master’s Office, Alderney Shipping, the Council of the Alderney Society, the Administrator and custodians of the Alderney Society Museum,  Aurigny Airlines, the Cheap Trust, the General Services Committee of the States of Alderney, Mainbrayce Chandlers, the Mignot Memorial Hospital, the Oxford Branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club, the Director and staff of the conservation division of York Archaeological Trust. 

Annex 1: Recovered artefacts

Ceramic grenades

1478 – Body fragment. 40 x 45 x 60 mm.

1479 – Body fragment. 19 x 25 x 26 mm.

1480 – Two joining body fragments. Splash of green glaze on one corner. Conjoined, 35 x 53 mm.

1482 – Body fragment. 15 x 15 mm.

1483 – Body fragment. 20 x 37 mm.

1485 – Body fragment. 20 x 25 mm.

1486 – Part of lip and quarter of body. Splash of green glaze at point of maximum circumference. 78 x 95 mm.

1494 – Body fragment. 45 x 63 mm.

1495 – Body fragment. 20 x 23 mm.

1498 – Body fragment. Splash of green glaze at one corner. 27 x 37 mm.

1502 – Body fragment. Several small splashes of green glaze on exterior. 36 x 42 mm.

1511 – Body fragment. 31 x 34 x 53 mm.

1534 – Body fragment. 32 x 41 x 50 mm.

1535 – Body fragment. 46 x 50 x 55 mm.

1536 – Part of base and lower body. Small splashed of green glaze on underside of base. Surviving height 45 mm.

1542 – Body fragment from possible grenade. Horizontal corrugations on exterior body wall. 55 x 55 x 62 mm.

Bellermines

1476 – Body fragment. 14 x 31 mm.

1503 – Shoulder fragment with stub of one handle. 55 x 55 mm.

1509 – Body fragment. 25 x 30 x 36 mm.

1510 – Base fragment. 37 x 40 x 45 mm.

1528 – Base and lower body fragment. Surviving height 32 mm.

1529 – Neck fragment with part of mask, displaying left eye, nose and left outline of face. 27 x 30 mm.

1530 – Body fragment. 10 x 14 x 30 mm.

1533 – Body fragment featuring part of the circumference of a roundel. 28 x37 x 40 x 56 mm.

1537 – Body fragment. 12 x 17 x 22 x 27 mm.

Alborelli

1489 – Body fragment. Exterior, blue, white and brown horizontal banding. Interior, solid grey-black, speckled glaze. Clay, beige. 14 x 24 mm.

1514 – Body fragment. Exterior, decorated with a red and a blue arrowhead-like device separated by a yellow diagonal line. Blue and red horizontal banding above and below field. Interior, plain glazed. Clay, ochre. 35 x 75 mm.

1544 – Base fragment from possible alborello. Exterior, light grey, speckled. Interior, plain glazed. Clay, beige. 18 x 55 mm.

1545 – Base fragment. Green glazing on both exterior and interior body wall. Clay, grey. 25 x 27 mm.

1546 – Body fragment. Exterior, red, white and blue banding. Interior, speckled grey glaze. Clay, beige. 10 x 12 x 18 x 19 mm.

Galleyware

1481 – Rim and neck fragment. Exterior, appears to have been plain. Interior, grey wash. Clay, light grey-brown. Height of lip 10 mm. 33 x 71 mm.

1484 – Edge of base and part of lower body. Exterior, green-glazed band. Interior, solid green glaze. Clay, grey outside, light brown inside. 25 x 36 x 40 x 55 mm.

1496 – Heavyset rim fragment. Exterior, dark grey glazing. Interior, speckled green glazing. Reddish clay. Height of lip 20 mm. 29 x 31 x 47 x 52 mm

1497 – Body fragment. Exterior, three horizontal grooves, appears to have been unglazed. Interior, dark glazed. Clay, grey on exterior body wall, red on interior. 35 x 39 x 50 mm

1499 – Body fragment. Exterior plain. Interior, green-glazed. Clay, light brown on outside, inside grey. 25 x 52 mm.

1500 – Body fragment. Exterior, three horizontal grooves, grey painted with creamy white band of 15 mm width. Interior, light brown. Clay, reddish brown. 28 x 46 x 54 x 65 mm.

1512 – Body fragment. Exterior plain with some traces of charring. Interior, solid geen glaze. Clay, fine-grained brick-red. 29 x 54 x 60 x 70 mm.

1518 – Body fragment, off-set at point of maximum circumference. Exterior, plain. Interior, plain with splashes of white and green glaze. Clay, brick-red with dark grey core. 17 x 45 x 55 x 60 mm.

1538 – Body fragment. Exterior, plain. Interior, plain with splashes of green glaze. Clay, light brown with dark grey core. 50 x 77 mm.

1539 – Part of base, body wall and stub of one foot. Body off-set at point of maximum circumference. Exterior body wall and foot are plain with speckles of green glaze on underside. Interior, speckled green glazing. Clay, black-dark grey firing to red at surface. Surviving height 85 mm.  Length of foot approx. 14 mm.

1541 – Part of base and lower body with stub of one foot. Remains of charring on underside. Exterior, plain. Interior, light green speckled glaze. Clay, brick-red with grey core. 55 x 57 x 67 mm.

1543 – Body fragment. Exterior plain. Interior, clear glazing. Clay, fine-grained reddish brown. 23 x 33 x 37 mm.

1547 – Heavy-walled body fragment. Exterior, plain. Interior, dark green glaze. Clay, reddish brown. 11 x 14 x 15 x 17 mm.

Tiles

1531 – Plain, unglazed fragment without edges. Clay, red. Thickness 15 mm. 38 x 40 x 55 x 60 mm.

1532 – Plain, unglazed fragment without edges. Clay, same as 1531. Thickness 14 mm. 14 x 15 x 20 x 20 mm.

Glass

1487 – Nine pieces of broken pane glass recovered from concretion 1477. Badly stained by its setting. Thickness 2 – 3 mm. Largest two fragments 44 x 52 mm and 27 x 55 mm. 

Concretions

1474 – Tapering four-sided shaft in two parts. Has been x-rayed. Conjoined, 135 x 240 mm.

1475 – X-rays suggest that there is no void and contains only corrosion products. Length 135 mm. Maximum diameter 44 mm.

1491 – Possible piece of body armour or helmet. Has been x-rayed. 129 x 150 x 164 mm.

1493 – L-shaped, in two parts. X-rays identified a largish nail. Conjoint, 130 x 180 mm.

1548 – V-shaped. 140 x 140 x 150 mm.

1549 – From concretion covering cannon 6. Head of possible bar fastening. 105 x 130 mm.

Bone

1515 – Animal. Part of ball joint from upper limb.

1516 – Animal. Part of vertebra.

1517 – Animal. Part of vertebra.

Deadeye

1504 – Badly damaged five-hole deadeye. Height 195 mm. Maximum width 122 mm. Thickness 36 mm. Diameter of holes 24 mm.

Lead patch

1488 – Four-sided lead patch, damaged at one corner. Along all edges, perforations from small, square nails (4 x 4 mm). Six perforations on each of the two intact sides. 165 x 178 mm.

Bosun’s pipe

1501 – Copper alloy pipe capped at one end; opposite end crushed. ‘Collar’ at capped end with the remains of an attached feature. Two pairs of incised lines around the body of the pipe. Length 112 mm. Diameter of the pipe 6.5 mm. Diameter of collar 9 mm.

Powder flask

1507 – Small wooded flask for priming powder. Half enveloped in concretion. In profile, flat bottom with concave sides that converge on a neck (outside dimensions, 23 x 27 mm) that is missing its metal cap and spout. Holes for attaching the cap survive on both sides of the neck. One lower corner missing. Some damage to neck. Height 83 mm. Thickness at base 30 mm, diminishing to 23 mm at neck.

Apostles

1505 – Missing cap, base disc and both body eyelets. Slightly compressed. Incised line below lip. Height 98 mm. Max. upper diameter 13 mm. Maximum base diameter 27 mm.

1506 – Missing cap and base disc. One crushed eyelet survives on body. Slightly compressed. Incised line below lip. Height 98 mm. Max. upper diameter 14 mm. Max. base diameter 27 mm.

Lead shot – firearms

1540 – Badly deteriorated and slightly compressed. Approx. diameter 22 mm.

Iron shot – heavy ordnance

1490 – Cannonball concreted to a large stone and a featureless fragment of wood. Large ‘finger’ of corrosion products protruding from the shot. Overall length 350 mm.

Uncertain

1508 – Fine length of diminishing copper tubing. Length 27 mm. Diameter 3 mm diminishing to 1.5 mm.

Items left on seabed

The following items were numbered and left as they were or in the depot.

1477 – Composite concretion, with pottery and wood.

1492 – Lead scupper pipe.

1513 – Concretion. In depot. Length 390 mm.

1519 – Composite concretion with wooden sheaf. Beside G3.

1520 – With half a wooden deadeye attached. G3.

1521 – Concreted breast plate. Buried beside G3.

1522 – Concretion. Possible end of bar-shot with stone attached. G3.

1523 – Concretion. Possible bar-shot. G3. Length 300 mm.

1524 – Concreted musket with helmet attached to barrel. Beside G3.

1525 – Piece of brick. G3.

1526 – Piece of brick. G3.

1527 – Composite concretion. Wooden sheaf and other timbers.

Unnumbered helmet at survey point A

Items sent away for conservation

Because of their delicate nature two items were immediately sent to York Archaeological Trust for stabilization and conservation.

1504 – Wooden deadeye

1507 – Wooden powder flask