Clues point to Dunwich wreck being Armada vessel fleeing the battle

Stuart Bacon of Suffolk Underwater Studies with the cannon, which is now believed to have come from

Stuart Bacon of Suffolk Underwater Studies with the cannon, which is now believed to have come from a Spanish Armada vessel. Picture: JAMIE NIBLOCK - Credit: Archant

An eminent marine archaeologist has identified a series of clues which he believes shows there is the wreck of a warship from the Spanish Armada off the Suffolk coast.

The huge gun is lifted from the seabed on board the diving support vessel Sirius in 1994. Picture: A

The huge gun is lifted from the seabed on board the diving support vessel Sirius in 1994. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Stuart Bacon, director of the Suffolk Underwater Studies unit, says information gathered over the years – including a diving expedition he led – has now left him in little doubt that the vessel came from the failed invasion in 1588.

He told the EADT: “Several clues have come together very nicely over the years and I feel very strongly that we have an Armada ship – what’s left of it – right on our doorstep.

“I feel very privileged to have been part of the exploration of it and would love to see it brought ashore.”

Mr Bacon, who held a Government licence to explore the wreck off Dunwich until two years ago, and his team, brought ashore an eight foot long bronze cannon in 1994 after working in nil visibility because of the thick sediment of the North Sea.

The gun being lifted from the seabed. Picture|: ANDY ABBOTT

The gun being lifted from the seabed. Picture|: ANDY ABBOTT


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He said: “The date of the cannon at around 1560 is absolutely right for the Armada.”

But it’s not just the cannon that points to the wreck being of a ship escaping the English forces by sailing up the North Sea.

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A ‘treasure chest’, now in Dunwich Museum, found around 500metres out at low water but stripped of its valuables is also believed to come from the ship.

Mr Bacon said: “It is believed to have been found something like 400 metres to 500m from the shore and at low water, flat water, that would have been very accessible in the 16th Century with no parol boats around and nothing to protect the wreck.”

Stuart Bacon, left, welcomes back the 16th Century bronze cannon to Dunwich and its new home in the

Stuart Bacon, left, welcomes back the 16th Century bronze cannon to Dunwich and its new home in the Dunwich Museum. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

During one of the dives at the wreck Mr Bacon discovered a huge siege cannon, possibly weighing up to three tonnes.

He said: “It was an enormous gun – not the type of cannon you would expect on a normal warship or merchant ship. It was the type of gun carried on the Armada ships to use to blast their way through.”

He has also read of an Armada vessel being sighted from Bawdsey cliffs, and believes three small cannons – one of which stood in the grass triangle in Dunwich for many years – but all later stolen, also came from the ship.

He said: “I think there are a strong series of clues which point to this ship being part of that fleet and that is very exciting for Suffolk’s history.”

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