Credit: Wessex Archaeology


The Salcombe shipwreck became one of the most famous wrecks in the world in 2009, when a significant number of Bronze Age objects were discovered off the coast of Devon. They were cataloged as belonging to a ship that sank nearly 3,000 years ago. Although this was not a new site and the existence of the ship was known for the past 30 years, it was only then that the trading vessel’s cargo was uncovered. This historic find stirred the archaeological community, allowing experts to learn more about the complexity of trading routes in the period.

The Salcombe is estimated to have carried a crew of 15 people, and was constructed from planks of timber. It measured 40 feet in length and 6 feet in width, and was propelled by paddles, as most Bronze Age ships. 27 tin ingots and 259 copper ingots were discovered aboard the Salcombe shipwreck thus far. The metals were thought to have been shipped for the purpose of manufacturing bronze, the main material that most cultures of the time used in order to create jewelry, weapons and various ornaments. The wreck lies 10 meters deep in an area known as Wash Gully, and is believed to have sunk while attempting to land.

According to archaeologists the wreck is believed to be an extremely important find due to the new information it offers about trade during the Bronze Age. It had sunk around 900 BC, and it is considered as the equivalent of a modern day bulk carrier. Although other objects from the ship were found in years past, the Salcombe wreck was only identified in 2009 at the International Shipwreck Conference in Plymouth, England. The find shows the complexity and diversity of trade in that era, carrying objects that originated from a number of ancient European cultures.

The shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Salcombe in South Devon, Britain. The ship became popular as early as 1977, when only eight objects were discovered and taken to shore. As diving practices and undersea archaeology continued to advance additional objects were discovered at the site in 2004 and 2008. The largest haul was produced in 2009, when more than 200 additional objects were discovered, shedding new light on the trade, culture and technology of the time. According to experts, the 3,000-year old Salcombe shipwreck still has plenty of secrets to reveal, and archaeologists expect additional finds at the site in years to come.


Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

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