The 2006 season ran for six weeks from 1 June to 14 July. The team numbered 31, of whom 19 were divers. The weather was fair throughout the period, making this the most productive season the project has known. Of 41 possible diving days, only ten were lost to weather.
The first objective of the season was to begin a three to four year program of situ conservation on the cannon using a technique developed by Ian MacLeod, Director and Chief Conservator at the Western Australia Museum. The technique is similar to the anodic method of protecting boats, which involves the attachment of an anode (metal with a lower corrosion potential than that of the subject) to the gun while it is on the seabed. This not only halts further corrosion but actually begins the task of extracting the chloride salts from within the metal. The second objective was to continue the trial trenching that was started in 2005 along the base-line between Datum N and the cascabel end of Gun 1.
For several years the site has been relatively stable compared to some of the major movements of sand that occurred during the 1990s. In the past the sand migrated about the site, building in one area, receding in another. This year the first divers reported back that a significant amount of sand had been removed from across the site in a roughly uniform layer, eight to ten inches deep. A large number of artefacts were showing that had not been visible during the 2005 season. This process continued throughout the period, so that more was visible at the end of the season than had been at the start.
Much of the visible material was concretion or sherds, but there were also a number of delicate timbers. The most vulnerable pieces have sand- bagged for protection.
The depot tank that was installed on the site in 2005, and thought to be stable, was found on its side. Items that had been left in it at the end of the last season had spilled on to the seabed. The cause was probably accidental entanglement in a crab-pot or an anchor line. The tank was restationed and a sacrificial anode was attached to one side. This incident highlights the risks inherent in leaving recovered finds on the seabed and it will be necessary for us to review the strategy.
The change in the seabed led to several observations:
- Artefacts (mostly sherds and small concretions) had migrated into areas of the trial trench that had been excavated in 2005. This not only proves the movement of some material around the site and that we cannot be confindent that finds are made in a depositional pattern, but it also demonstrates that previously excavated areas can no longer be considered devoid of wreck remains.
- Areas around certain guns that were cleared of artefacts in 2005, were this year found to contain fresh artefact arrays. From this it is evident that the scour-pits that come and go around the cannon, were acting as catchment zones for items (again, mostly sherds and small concretions) in their movement around the site.
- For the first time there was indisputable evidence that delicate artefacts, once exposed, are soon seriously damaged. This was demonstrated by two objects that were found on the surface of the seabed at the beginning of season. The first was pulley block 1374. This was found intact and in pristine condition, except for a largish fragment that was missing from the edge of one cheek. The break was so fresh it could only have happened within the last few weeks. The other item was the end of a barrel stave (1373) that had broken off along the croze (groove for lid or base). The break was jagged a nd so fresh, or with without erosion, that it could only have happened recently. The main part of the stave was nowhere to be found; it is assumed that, being thin and broad, it has been carried away in the current. This reinforces our opinion that, as soon as artefacts are exposed, they must be recovered.
Anodes were attached to guns 1 and 5. Throughout the off-season these will be checked by divers from the Alderney Dive Cub under the supervision of Phil Murry. It is expected that this phase of the gun conservation program will last about four years.
Four new 2 x 2 m grids were installed and excavated along the base-line between Datum N and Gun 1. 74 % of the two meter wide trial trench along the base-line has now been excavated. Preliminary distribution-plots indicate an increase in material towards Gun 1.
A total of 137 artefacts were recovered and eight were left in the depot on site (see Annex 1 for details). All except those in the depot have been plotted on to the site-plan and are currently in desalination. The most notable finds were deadeye 1331, pulley block 1374, bar-shot 1391 and cover 1392.
During the course of the season Roy Restell conducted a detailed survey of the cannon. The findings are summarized on a data-sheet which has been included in this report as Annex 2.
This year the project was joined for the first time by two student conservators from the University of Cardiff (Sarah Brown and Kate Jackson). In addition to routine conservation duties, they investigated a number of minor items (concretion fragments, featureless wood splinters, etc.) that the excavation conservator and excavation director agreed provided no useful information. Rather than disposing of these items it was thought prudent to rebury them in an environment were they would not decay further. Burial sites meeting these conditions can be found on the seabed but, because of the strength of the bottom-currents, it is possible that at some stage they might be lost to scouring. Rather, it has been proposed that the items, suitably packed in a non-deteriorating protective material, might be buried in one of the flooded quarries on the island.
In June the final artefact (a breast plate) was returned from conservation in Jersey. This marks the end of a successful conservation program with the Jersey Heritage Trust under the supervision of Neil Mahrer (see Acknowledgements).
During the season additional pages were prepared for the website. Also, two new sections were designed, one to take season reports, the other for recent discoveries; the purpose of both being to make new information available more quickly.
During the winter a daily log will be designed for the website so that in 2007, absent project members and anybody with a general interest in the work will be able to follow progress as it happens.
During the later part of the season the project was joined by Phil Rees from Oxford University who began designing the project’s database. It is an objective of the Alderney Maritime Trust to make all its findings available to the public over the World Wide Web.
Digital photographic record
This season a studio was set up in the museum’s lower storage room and Astrid Harrisson, Alex Harrisson and Christine Ortlepp began work on a digital photographic record of all the artefacts.
It is planned to hold a study-season on Alderney during the 2006/07 winter. The purpose of this will be:
a) to work on the 2005 finds
b) to catalogue and store returning material from conservation in England
c) to continue with information-entry on the web data-base.
In alphabetical order: Bryan Baird, Mensun Bound, Sarah Brown, Stuart Churchley, Mike Corfield, Alex Harrisson, Astrid Harrisson, Mike Harrisson, John Hodges, Steve Hodgson, Ian Ireland, Kate Jackson, Brandon Mason, Phil Murry, Roland Neal, Christine Ortlepp, Lee Oselton, Al Paton, Tim Postlethwaite, Phil Rees, Mary Restell, Roy Restell, John Russel, Fred Shaw, Nigel Shaw, Ann Smith, Bryan Smith, Kevin Stratford, Mark Trowell, Dave Venn, Steve Wright.
The Alderney Maritime Trust is indebted to the following people and organizations (in alphabetical order): Peter Arnold, Louis and Carolyne Jean, Neil Mahrer, Don Oakden, Ian Panter, John and Bridget Postlethwaithe, Helen Pringle, Royston and Pat Raymond, Steve Shaw, Jim Spriggs, Eve Tetley, David Thornburrow, David Watkinson, Tess Woodnutt, Mark Wordsworth, the Alderney Dive Club, the Council of the Alderney Society, the Administrator and custodians of the Alderney Society Museum, the General Services Committee of the States of Alderney, the staff of the Harbour Master’s Office, the Jersey Heritage Trust for their help with conservation, Mainbrayce, the Mignot Memorial Hospital, the conservation division of the School of History and Archaeology at Cardiff University, the staff of the conservation unit of the York Archaeological Trust.
ANNEX 1: Recovered artefacts
The following items were recovered during the 2006 season. With the exception of the three items listed in the following section, they are all undergoing desalinization at Alderney Museum:
1367 Body fragment. 30 x 34 mm
1387 Body fragment. 14 x 19 mm
1416. Part of mask from bellarmine jar. 19 x 40 mm
1434 Body fragment. 38 x 38 mm
1446 Body fragment. 25 x 50 x 50 mm
1448 Body fragment. 20 x 20 mm
1464 Body fragment. Body fragment. 31 x 51 mm
1466 Base fragment. 35 x 48 mm
1467a Base fragment. 43 x 50 mm
1467b Body fragment. 39 x 50 mm
1468 Base fragment. 30 x 50 mm
1469 Base fragment. 15 x 35 mm
1470 Body fragment. 16 x 20 mm
1472 Body fragment. 20 x 35 mm
1340 Body fragment. 69 x 72 mm
1397 Body fragment. 18 x 26 mm
1414 Body fragment. 32 x 35 mm
1417 Base fragment. 21 x 45 mm
1441 Rim and body fragment. 54 x 96 mm
1445 Body fragment. 30 x 50 mm
1451 Rim fragment. 25 x 25 mm
1453 Body fragment. 22 x 34 mm
1454 Rim and body fragment. 46 x 88 mm
1455 Rim and body fragment. 39 x 42 mm
1465 Body fragment. 29 x 31 mm
1341 Handle fragment. 50 x 70 mm
1342 Handle. 71 x 131 mm
1348 Base fragment with standing foot. 115 x 135
1369 Base fragment with standing foot. 90 x 100 mm
1372 Rim and base fragment. 50 x 94 mm
1375 Body fragment. 96 x 152 mm
1384 Body fragment. 35 x 50 mm
1395 Body fragment. 31 x 52 mm
1396 Body fragment. 28 x 37 mm
1399 Body fragment. 42 x 46 mm
1411 Body fragment. 35 x 90 mm
1427 Body fragment. 30 x 51 mm
1429 Body fragment. 39 x 45 mm
1432 Body fragment. 35 x 50 mm
1433 Body fragment. 31 x 41 mm
1435 Body fragment. 19 x 22 mm
1436 Body fragment. 39 x 65 mm
1437 Body fragment. 52 x 55 mm
1438 Body fragment. 21 x 29 mm
1439 Body fragment. 36 x 37 mm
1440 Heavy base fragment. 390 x 890 mm
1444 Body fragment. 30 x 60 mm
1447 Body fragment. 42 x 49 mm
1449 Standing foot from cooking pot. 50 x 65 mm
1450 Rim fragment. 40 x 57 mm
1435 Possible brick fragment. 19 x 22 mm
1264 Concretion. 138 x 174 mm
1276 Concretion. 15 x 26 mm
1277 Concretion. 20 x 34 mm
1280 Concretion, or possibly unrelated marine matter. 52 x 64 mm
1281 Concretion. 24 x 53 mm
1282 Concretion. 55 x81 mm
1283 Concretion. 29 x 75 mm
1284 Concretion. 16 x 71 mm
1285 Concretion. 29 x 68 mm
1286 Concretion. In three pieces. 26 x 78 mm
1287 Concretion. 49 x 75 mm
1288 Concretion. 24 x 40 mm
1290 Concretion. In two pieces. 34 x 64 mm
1292 Concretion. 83 x 150 mm
1294 Concretion. 42 x 79 mm
1311 Concretion. 122 x 179 mm
1312 Concretion. 70 x 90 mm
1313 Concretion. 75 x 132 mm
1314 Concretion. 44 x 117 mm
1315 Concretion. 70 x 79 mm
1317 Concretion. 72 x 170 mm
1318 Concretion. 26 x 19 mm
1319 Concretion. 89 x 210 mm
1343 Concretion. 22 x 40 x 80 mm
1344 Concretion. 36 x42 x 46 mm
1345 Concretion. 48 x 62 x 114 mm
1349 Concretion. 65 x 82 mm
1350 Concretion. 63 x 78 mm
1351 Concretion. 66 x 108 mm
1352 Concretion. 84 x 134 mm
1353 Concretion. 113 x 140 mm
1354 Concretion. 62 x 72 mm
1355 Concretion. 58 x 118 mm
1356 Concretion. 63 x 164 mm
1357 Concretion. 48 x 105 mm
1358 Concretion. 35 x 46 mm
1359 Concretion. 38 x 58 mm
1360 Concretion with featureless wood fragment. 56 x 128 mm. The wood fragment separated and was numbered 1361.
1362 Concretion. 62 x 193 mm
1363 Concretion. 46 x 86 mm
1364 Concretion. 50 x 76 mm
1365 Concretion. 123 x 290 mm
1366 Concretion containing medical forceps and pottery fragment (possibly base of a grenade). Length 390 mm
1377 Concretion. 99 x 164 mm. Numbered in 2005. Lable broke in depot. Raised in 2006 and given a new number.
1380 Concretion containing fragment of wood. 41 x 55 mm
1381 Concretion containing fragment of wood. 36 x 66 mm
1382 Concretion. 32 x 72 mm
1388 Concretion. 66 x 136 mm
1389 Concretion. 82 x 100 mm
1393 Fragment of concretion. 40 x 155 mm
1394 Concretion. 250 x 405 mm
1407 Concretion. 70 x 200 mm
1413 Concretion. 48 x 71 mm
1415 Concretion. 40 x 210 mm
1418 Concretion. A small nodule has separated from the main concretion. 200 x 270 mm
1419 Concretion. 180 x 260 mm
1420 Concretion. 60 x 170 mm
1421 Concretion. 40 x 21 mm
1422 Concretion. 40 x 130 mm
1423 Concretion. 65 x 70 mm
1424 Concretion with fragment of wood. 40 x 135 mm
1426 Concretion. 60 x 90 mm
1428 Concretion with possible fragment of sword blade. In two joining pieces. 130 x 222 mm
1430 Concretion. 50 x 125 mm
1456 Concretion currently in depot. Cannon balls. 130 x 250 mm
1457 Concretion currently in depot. Cannon balls. 120 x 240 x 260 mm
1458 Concretion with stone currently in depot. 180 x 270 mm
1459 Round concretion with stone currently in depot. Diam. 180 mm
1460 Concretion currently in depot. 110 x 1130 mm
1461 Concretion with wood currently in depot. 70 x 100 mm
1462 Round concretion with wood currently in depot. Diam. 130 mm
1463 Concretion currently in depot. 20 x 150 mm
1289 Two joining fragments. 41 x 64 mm
1347 Rib fragment. 8 x 322 mm
1368 Rib fragment. Length 207 mm
1425 Bone fragment(?). 15 x 53 mm
1431 Rib fragment. 30 x 121 mm
1452 Missing cap and both eyes from body. Lower body and base no longer surviving. Remaining height 70 mm. Maximum diam. of lower body 25 mm. Diam of mouth 15 mm.
1391 Concreted bar-shot.110 x 344 mm
1392 Eroded cover. 300 x 450 mm.
1331 Dead-eye. 50 x 160 x 160 mm
1374 Semi-intact wooden pulley block.
1471 Approx. half a pulley wheel 65 x 125 mm. Width 28 mm
1473 Wooden shaft. Length 80 mm. Diam. 25 mm
1373 End of stave, broken along croze. 48 x 96. Thickness 12 mm
Featureless wood fragments
1361 Wood fragment that separated from concretion 1360. 33 x 53 mm
1346 Flint. 18 x 37 mm
1370 57 x 79 mm
1371 36 x 54 mm
1376 12 x 21 x 31 mm
1378 31 x 41 x61 mm
1379 33 x 46 x 70 mm
1383 48 x 49 mm
1385 18 x 20 x 35 mm
1386 20 x 31 x 36 mm
1404 45 x 49 mm
1410 18 x 23 mm
1390 Fragment, possibly pewter. 26 x 28 mm
1405 Fragment of wood or bone. 35 x 75 mm
Items sent for conservation or scientific investigation
Because of their importance or extreme delicate nature, three items were immediately sent to York Archaeological Trust for stabilization and treatment that could not be given on Alderney:
1331. Concreted dead-eye found in 2005 but not recovered until 2006.
1366. Medical forceps within concretion.
1374. Wooden pulley block with rope attached.
ANNEX 2: Data-sheet from cannon survey (compiled by Roy Restell)
Currently five cannon are visible on the surface of the seabed. One cannon (no. 2) was raised on 20 July 1994 and is now on display in the Alderney Museum. Reports of other cannon buried in the sand have not been verified.
Location: North side of site. Formerly adjacent to Gun 2. Beside main shot-line.
Disposition: Upside down.
Concreted dimensions: Length 2.45 m. Maximum width 0.45 m. Minimum width 0.2.
Condition and artefact inclusions in corrosion matrix: Concretion missing from muzzle. Artefacts within the concretion on the underside of the gun.
Anode: Commercial zinc anode attached to underside of barrel close to the muzzle on 7 July 2006.
Recovered 20 July 1994. Was formerly adjacent to, and almost touching, Cannon 1. Conserved. On display at Alderney Museum. Supporting carriage not authentic.
Location: Near centre of site, 1.25 m from Gun 5.
Disposition: Difficult to determine with certainty.
Concreted dimensions: Length 2.67 m (within concretion approx. 2.28 m). Maximum width 0.58 m (within concretion approx. 0.40 m). Minimum width 0.35 m (within concretion approx. 0.23 m).
Condition and artefact inclusions: Extensive concretion containing an intact grenade, possibly a helmet, a long item (possibly a musket) and many other objects of uncertain identity.
Anode: Not attached.
Location: 5m SW of Gun 6
Disposition: On its side with trunnions vertical. Right trunnion uppermost.
Concreted dimensions: Length 2.75 m. Maximum width 0.48 m. Minimum width 0.23 m.
Condition and artefact inclusions: Concretion contains some wood and other items, including an iron ring on upper side at cascabel end.
Anode: Not attached.
Location: Near centre of site, 1.25 m from Gun 3.
Disposition: Apparently right side up. Left trunnion possibly missing.
Concreted dimensions: Length 2.2 m. Maximum width 0.31 m. Minimum width 0.21 m.
Condition and artefact inclusions: Much wood on underside of concretion. Large additional concretion around right trunnion.
Anode: Not attached.
Location: Southern end of site, 1.80 m from datum Q.
Disposition: Ttrunnions at approximately 45° . Left trunnion uppermost.
Concreted dimensions: Maximum length 2.25 m. Maximum width 0.45 m. Minimum width 0.25 m.
Condition and artefact inclusions: Appears to contain some artefacts. Possible wood on underside.
Anode: Anode attached on 7 July 2006 to left side of barrel at cascabel end at roughly trunnion level.