UWTSD Academics take part in Tudor Shipwreck excavation


Academics from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David were part of a team that took part in the recent excavation of a rare shipwreck on Tankerton Beach near Whitstable.

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Photo by Tom Banbury/Timescapes

Professor Nigel Nayling and Dr Roderick Bale, who are based at the University’s Lampeter campus, were commissioned by Historic England to undertake the tree-ring dating of this shipwreck following its discovery by local archaeology group, Timescapes - who actually made the discovery earlier this year while hunting for World War Two pillboxes.

Following a survey of the remains, the experts estimate the vessel dates back to the late 16th or early 17th century and was a carvel-built merchant ship of up to 200 tonnes. Professor Nayling and Dr Bale joined other experts from Wessex Archaeology, with the help of Timescapes volunteers, to survey the exposed remains, which measured more than 12m long and 5m wide.  Tree-ring dating shows one oak hull plank to have been felled after 1531 and to have likely come from a tree growing in southern Britain.  Another piece of oak timber from the same vessel dates back to the second half of the16th century and is of North German origin.  Further sampling and tree-ring dating of the wreck, commissioned by Historic England, has since been undertaken in recent weeks by Professor Nayling, Dr Bale and Selina Ali at the environmental archaeology laboratory on UWTSD’s Lampeter campus. 

Professor Nigel Nayling, Programme director of the University’s Nautical Archaeology provision said:

"These discoveries are truly fascinating and will hopefully give us more information and knowledge regarding the region’s maritime history. We are delighted to be involved with the work of furthering our understanding of these shipwrecks and it’s very pleasing to know that our work has contributed towards legally protecting such remains.  Following our initial work on site additional sampling of the sixteenth-century shipwreck at Tankerton has been undertaken by Dr Bale with an aim to help refine the tree-ring dates already obtained.”

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Photo by Tom Banbury/Timescapes

Dr Roderick Bale, who coordinates all activities in the University’s Environmental Archaeology Laboratory added:

“It really has been an honour for us both to be a part of the team investigating these fascinating discoveries. Working on such projects is especially beneficial to our students as our programme in Nautical Archaeology draws upon a wide range of examples and projects from across the world especially where staff are working on collaborative projects and existing research networks.”

A second wreck, which was discovered in 2016 at Camber Sands, East Sussex, has also been investigated by the UWTSD academics whose work 'on dating the timbers shows they were sourced from North American trees in the first half of the 19th century.  UWTSD Lampeter has a very strong Archaeology department with academics at the cutting edge of archaeological research. For further about the University’s Archaeology provision please visit:  https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/ba-archaeology/ 

Further Information

For more information please contact Arwel Lloyd, Principal PR and Communications Officer, on 01267 676663 / Arwel.Lloyd@uwtsd.ac.uk