Wreck of 17th-century royal warship found off UK coast

LONDON (AP) – Diggers and historians are telling the world about the discovery of the wreckage of a royal warship that sank in 1682 while carrying the future King James Stuart.

HMS Gloucester ran aground while sailing along the sandbars of the town of Great Yarmouth on the east coast of England. It sank within an hour, killing an estimated 130 to 250 crew and passengers.

Jaime survived. He went on to reign as King James II of England and Ireland, and as James VII of Scotland from 1685 to 1688, when he was deposed by the Glorious Revolution.

The Gloucester wreck was found in 2007 by brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell and others after a four-year search. It was firmly identified in 2012 with the discovery of the ship’s bell.

The discovery was only made public on Friday because of the time it took to confirm the ship’s identity and the need to protect the historic site.

Claire Jowitt, an expert in maritime history at the University of East Anglia, said the sinking was “one of the ‘almost’ important moments in English history”. The sinking of the Gloucester nearly caused the death of the Catholic heir to the Protestant throne at a time of great political and religious tension in Britain.

“If he had died, we would have had a very different British and European history as a result,” she said.

“I think this is a time capsule that offers the opportunity to discover a lot about life on a 17th century ship. The actual nature of the ship is absolutely amazing and unique,” ​​she added.

She believes the wreck is the most important maritime discovery since the Mary Rose, the battleship of King Henry VIII’s Tudor navy. The Mary Rose capsized with a crew of about 500 in 1545 in the Solent, a strait between the Isle of Wight and the British mainland. She was brought back to the surface in 1982 in a massive salvage operation.

There are no current plans to lift the Gloucester wreck because much of it is buried under sand.

“We’ve just touched the tip of an iceberg,” said Julian Barnwell.

Artifacts rescued from the wreck include clothing, shoes, navigational equipment and many bottles of wine. A bottle bears a seal bearing the crest of the Legge family – the ancestors of George Washington, the first president of the United States. The coat of arms was a precursor to the Stars and Stripes flag.

An exhibition is planned for next spring at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery to showcase finds from the wreck and share ongoing research.

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