English researchers officially presented to the world the wreckage of the warship HMS Gloucester, which sank in the 17th century off the south-east coast of Great Britain. The wreck was found in 2007, but for 15 years it has been one of the most closely kept secrets in the history of sailing.
HMS Gloucester was a veteran of numerous wars with Spain and the Netherlands, but sank in times of peace – the ship hit a sandbank near the city of Great Yarmouth. Some passengers survived, including the future King of England, James II Stuart, but Gloucester himself went down, and with him hundreds of people. Until the 21st century, the crash site remained a mystery.
It has been resting on the seabed since the 17th century
The wreckage of HMS Gloucester was found by a diving team led by Julian and Lincoln Barnwell of Norfolk. It took them four years to track down the ship.
– One day I looked in the encyclopedia of sunken ships, looking for the oldest one. My attention was drawn to HMS Gloucester, which sank in 1628 – says Lincoln Barnwell. – I reached for the phone and called my brother to ask if he was ready for another adventure and wreck search.
As it turned out, HMS Gloucester lay 45 kilometers off the south-east coast of Great Britain. Although the discovery was made in 2007, it has only now been revealed – the wreck was located in extraterritorial waters, which required adequate protection of the crash site.
“It’s an amazing time capsule”
According to Barnwell, the first dive near the wreck was an unforgettable experience.
“I saw a black shadow on the seabed, which indicated we were dealing with a wreck,” recalls the diver. “Moments later, I was kneeling in the sand and there were these fantastic, huge cannons all around me.
According to researchers, the discovery of HMS Gloucester is one of the most important historical discoveries at sea in recent years.
“The ship sank so quickly that hardly anyone managed to escape,” he explains. – Rich people, poor people, workers and noblemen are buried here. This is an amazing time capsule.
The discovery is also unique because of the items found inside the wreckage. In addition to the cannons, HMS Gloucester also recovered sailing equipment and everyday items that may give us an insight into the life of various social groups in the 17th century.
Main photo source: Reuters