In 2022, workers of CEMEX who had been dredging for aggregates found at a quarry on the Dungeness Headland, Kent, found remains of old timbers from a vessel approximately a quarter of a mile from the coastline of Kent.
On realizing the importance of this discovery, Kent County Council commissioned some experts from Wessex archaeology with funding aid from Historic England.
The archaeologists discovered a rare Elizabethan vessel, which a dendrochronological analysis has reportedly dated the timbers being felled sometime between 1558 and 1580, during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.
At that time, England was in a transitional period for vessel construction, when vessels moved from a conventional clinker construction (like that of Viking vessels) to frame-first-built ships, a method used for the construction of the Mary Rose, constructed between 1509 and 1511, and crafts that were used for exploring and colonizing the New World.
Andrea Hamel, a Marine Archaeologist associated with Wessex Archaeology, said: To discover a late 16th-century vessel preserved in a quarry’s sediment was an unforeseen but welcome find. The ship has the potential to disclose much about a period with limited surviving evidence of shipbuilding. Still, it was a significant phase of change in the world of ship construction and seafaring.
The ship was built using English Oak, for which researchers have discovered more than 100 surviving timbers. Specialists believe that the vessel was wrecked on the shingle headland or was abandoned at the end of the vessel’s usefulness.
Antony Firth of Historic England said: The vessel’s remains are significant and will help understand the boat and the broader landscape of trade and shipbuilding in this busy period.
Historic England is pleased to support the emergency work carried out by Kent County Council and Wessex Archaeology. Viewing the results highlighted in the new Digging season for Britain is exciting.
References: Wessex Archaeology, Heritage Daily