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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, both the carvings and the canister are rare survivals that would normally have been destroyed in the wrecking process or swept away.

A full publication on the work on the Swash Channel wreck by Bournemouth University is forthcoming (as of June 2019).

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. A fifth carving, that of another merman, has also been 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 has been completed by the York Archaeological Trust alongside the conservation of the rudder, 8.3 metres long and weighing over 3 tonnes, the excavation of which MAST was closely involved in.

Conservation is now complete and you are able to see it in its new, spectacular position at Poole Museum alongside a number of newly conserved Swash artefacts.

The Poole Iron Age logboat project has begun. Because of its fragility and confined position within the glass case at Poole Museum, the vessel could not be moved so an innovative approach had to be found.

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.

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.

Poole museumYork archaeological trust