Unknown Wreck off Thorness Bay
List Entry Summary
This site is designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 as it is or may prove to be the site of a vessel lying wrecked on or in the sea bed and, on account of the historical, archaeological or artistic importance of the vessel, or of any objects contained or formerly contained in it which may be lying on the sea bed in or near the wreck, it ought to be protected from unauthorised interference. Protected wreck sites are designated by Statutory Instrument. The following information has been extracted from the relevant Statutory Instrument.
Name: Unknown Wreck off Thorness Bay
List Entry Number: 1402103
0.59km south-west of Gurnard Ledge, Thorness Bay, Isle of Wight.
Competent Authority: Not applicable to this List entry.
The site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
National Grid Reference: SZ4551794486
Date first designated: 31-Jul-2013
Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.
This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.
List entry Description
Information provided under the Statutory Instrument heading below forms part of the official record of a protected wreck site. Information provided under other headings does not form part of the official record of the designation. It has been compiled by Historic England to aid understanding of the protected wreck site.
Summary of Site
The remains of a wooden sailing vessel located in shallow water off the Isle of Wight. The site consists of ship structure, comprising framing, planking, fixtures and fittings spread over an area 30m by 10m. There are also many small finds scattered over the site that are associated with many aspects of shipboard life and technology including rigging and navigation equipment and possible material associated with the ship’s cargo or provisions. The site is extremely unusual as it appears to offer an almost complete assemblage of a mid- to late-C19 merchant sailing ship.
Reason for Designation
The unidentified wreck in Thorness Bay is designated as a Protected Wreck Site for the following principal reasons:
* Survival/condition: the site has a high degree of preservation, coupled with a low percentage of material loss;
* Fragility/vulnerability: without intervention, the wreck is increasingly vulnerable to salvage and loss;
* Diversity: the site is extremely unusual in that it appears to offer an almost complete assemblage of a mid to late C19 century merchant sailing ship;
* Potential: the surviving structure, fixtures and fittings offer great potential for study, coupled with additional structure and stratified artefacts surviving buried beneath seabed sediments on the port side.
Archaeological assessment in 2010 revealed that the site comprises the remains of a wooden merchant sailing vessel consisting of coherent ships structure including framing, inner and outer planking, and numerous fixtures and fittings. There were also many small finds scattered over the site that were associated with many aspects of shipboard life and technology including rigging and navigation equipment and possible material associated with the ship’s cargo or provisions. The site is extremely unusual as it appears to offer an almost complete assemblage of a mid- to late-C19 century merchant sailing ship.
In 1914, the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) had recorded this site as an area of foul ground that could possibly be the remains of a schooner known as the Neath. The site was last surveyed by the UKHO in 2007 when sidescan and swath images were produced of the site. However, additional evidence, both archaeological and documentary, is required in order to make any definitive claims regarding the identification of this site.
Designation History: Designation Order: 2013 No.1636; Made: 3 July 2013; Laid before Parliament: 4 July 2013; Coming into force: 31 July 2013; Protected area: 75 metres within 50 44.89 N, 001 21.37 W
No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
Archaeological History: previously recorded by the UK Hydrographic Office as an area of foul ground that could possibly be the remains of a schooner known as the Neath, the site was first surveyed in 2010 for the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) as part of a wider community project.
The wreck, lying in Thorness Bay, off the north coast of the Isle of Wight, at an average depth of 15m, had been subject to brief diving investigations by Wessex Archaeology (on behalf of NFNPA) in 2010, though these were not in sufficient detail to interpret the wreck as poor visibility hampered assessment. Consequently, a comprehensive undesignated site survey was commissioned in 2011. The seabed is described as comprising layers of fine silts and slipper limpet shells over clay. The proposed restricted area lies within the Hamstead Heritage Coast and partly within the Solent Maritime SAC.
Additional evidence, both archaeological and documentary, is required in order to make any definitive claims regarding the identification of this site. Although this wreck is from a period that is well documented and hulks of similar types of vessel are found within inter-tidal areas, this site is important in that it offers what is apparently a significant assemblage of the type that does not survive within hulked vessels found within the inter-tidal zone.
Larn, R and Larn, B, Shipwreck index of the British Isles: Volume II South Coast and the Isle of Wight, (1997)
Wessex Archaeology, 19th Century Merchant Sailing Ship Off Thorness Bay, Isle of Wight., February 2011,
The above chart is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale chart, please see the attached PDF - 1402103 .pdf
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2018 at 09:18:47.
End of official listing