Shipwreck, Covehithe

wooden planks on sandy beach next to sea

Image: The Covehithe shipwreck © Martin Knapp

The remains of a ship have recently been spotted by a member of the public on Covehithe beach near Southwold, which could possibly date from the late 17th to 19th centuries.

The discovery was reported to the Archaeological Service who passed the details onto the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN), who are experts in coastal archaeology and run a survey and recording volunteer programme. CITiZAN will survey the wreck as soon as possible, but at the moment it cannot be investigated, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Interestingly, photographs of the wreck give us a glimpse into how the ship would have been constructed. They show the outside of the wooden hull with the remains of a metal sheathing; thin metal plates attached to the outside of the hull to reduce the amount of seaweed and barnacles. The type of metal used has not yet been confirmed, but CITiZAN Officer Andy Sherman explains that if it is copper this would date the vessel from the mid-18th century onwards, and it if is lead it would be much rarer and date to the late 17th century.

You may have noticed in the news recently that the remains of another shipwreck were uncovered at Thorpeness beach. This wreck appeared to be held together with wooden “treenails” or pins, a technique that dates from the 13th Century to the 19th Century.

To find out more about this and other recent shipwrecks found on our Suffolk coast see:

Suffolk shipwreck find could be ‘really rare‘, BBC News Article, 7th March 2021

Reports on the aerial mapping and survey of Suffolk’s coastal Archaeology, Suffolk Heritage Explorer Website.

Find your Local CITiZAN Discovery Programme, CITiZAN Website

Discovering and Understanding Marine Archaeology, Historic England Website

or contact the Historic England Maritime Team at maritime@historicengland.org.uk

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