HomeScienceRelics illuminate the wreck of HMS Gloucester, a 17th-century warship

Relics illuminate the wreck of HMS Gloucester, a 17th-century warship

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THIS intriguing selection of images documents a catastrophic shipwreck that, after more than 300 years, has had some of its relics brought to the surface. They will be showcased in a new exhibition, The Last Voyage of the Gloucester, by the University of East Anglia and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, both in the UK.

1682 painting of the wreck by Johan Danckerts.

Royal Museums Greenwich/Wikimedia Commons

In 1682, the warship HMS Gloucester set sail for Edinburgh carrying the future King James II of England and Ireland, who was also King James VII of Scotland. Not long into its journey, the ship struck a sandbank off the Norfolk coast and sank. James survived, but some 250 people on board died.


A 3D representation of the wreck site is shown in this photogrammetry image from the Maritime Archaeology Trust.

Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks Ltd

It wasn’t until 2007 that the miraculously well-preserved shipwreck was discovered by brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, who had spent years scuba diving in search of the vessel. However, the pair were unable to reveal their find until last year so it could be protected.

The ship’s lifting tools on the seabed

A 3D representation of the wreck site is shown in the main picture in a photogrammetry image from the Maritime Archaeology Trust.

Pictured above: a pair of glasses in their case; and below two salt-glazed jugs, known as Bellarmine bottles; and a “Sun in Splendour” bottle. All were found at the site.

Two salt-glazed jugs, known as Bellarmine bottles, left; and a “Sun in Splendour” right

Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks

Pictured below the 65-kilogram bronze bell of HMS Gloucester.

The exhibition is at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery until 10 September.


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