- Education and Science
Lost Treasure Ships of the British Isles.
British Naval Power
As Britain has been a sea power for over 500 years and an important trading centre for even longer, tons of cargo has been transported around the British Isles. For all the ships that have attempted to trade, invade or visit the British isles, a few unlucky ships have been lost in the sometimes treacherous coastal waters.
Local legends tell of unimaginable treasures lying on the seabed waiting to be found by adventurous and intrepid treasure hunters. Throughout the British Isles there are stories of missing French gold intended for Scottish rebels, and thousands of Spanish coins in the hull of sunken ships of the Spanish Armada fleet.
Before Admiral Nelson's flagship was built, there was another ship christened the HMS Victory. This vessel had a different and more tragic history to its more famous successor. In 1744 Admiral Sir John Balchin, whose flag was flying on board the Victory, was returning from a voyage from Gibraltar.The vessel having reached the Channel on the 3rd of October, was overtaken by a quick and devastating storm. HMS Victory was a very steady and robust ship by the standards of the eighteenth century, and it was the largest ship in the world at the time of its construction at Portsmouth in 1737. HMS Victory represented a peak in ship construction for the British Royal Navy. On the 4th of October, the Victory was separated from the rest of the returning British fleet, and was never heard of again. The ship had on board close to 1,000 sailors, plus a complement of marines, and guests of high standing in British high society.
It is speculated that she struck upon a ridge of rocks off the Caskets and eventually sunk into the channel. This is pieced together from the testimony of the inhabitants of the island of Alderney, the weather was too dangerous to allow boats to go out to the assistance of the Victory. With the ship consigned to the depths of the sea so perished the finest ship of the British Navy. With the sinking of the Victory 100-110 bronze cannons and £400,000 in gold coins taken on in Lisbon were lost to the British treasury along with the personal effects and miscellaneous cargo of the ship.
British treasure wrecks
Sunken Treasure Ships
Possibly the greatest hoard of sunken treasure still waiting to be found on the seabed around Great Britain is that which went down in the Merchant Royal, off Dartmouth, on 23 September, 1641 AD. Returning to Britain with a definite King's ransom in Spanish treasure, her sinking in bad weather was a great loss to the British treasury. The sinking witnessed by another vessel in its company reported the location of its demise as 21 miles off the coast of Lands End.
The vessel was carrying thirty-six bronze cannon, in her cargo hold was £300,000 in silver, £100,000 in gold, and as much again in jewel.It is also estimated that wooden chests held perhaps more than half a million Spanish silver pesos, 500 heavy bars of gold and thick ingots of silver. In some reports the hold also held vast amounts of rubies, emeralds, diamonds and pearls. The loss of so much treasure was a shock to most of Europe, as they had personal effects and jewellery on the ship.
Wrecks are everywhere
If you were to check in any coastal town along the British coast there is so much folklore and legend with regard to lost bounty underneath the waves. Due to the difficulty in pinpointing wrecks from a century or two ago, it would be expensive to track down the treasure.
To fully investigate a shipwreck site and acquire the salvageable items is a legal minefield as some foreign governments still have claim on the lost ships. The North Sea and English channel are violent seas and have been the undoing of many, the wrecks on the ocean floor is ample proof of that.
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