Medieval Shipwreck and Artifacts in 'Immaculate Condition' Discovered off Coast of Southern England

The 750-year-old site of a medieval shipwreck known as the “Mortar Wreck” is the oldest known wreck in which the ship’s hull is still visible.

A medieval shipwreck known as the “Mortar Wreck” was discovered off England’s southern coast.

Scientists were able to test the timbers of the ship and determine that it dates back to the 13th century.

The 750-year-old site is the oldest known wreck in which the ship’s hull is still visible. According to maritime archaeologist Tim Cousins, some of the artifacts found in the wreck, “are in immaculate condition, like they were carved yesterday.”
It last saw land during the reign of King Henry III. 

The “Mortar Wreck” got its name from the grinding bowls, or mortars, found in its hull. Maritime archaeologist Tom Cousins of Bournemouth University explained what else his team has discovered in the wreck. 

“This is a cauldron, so this would have been for their daily potage, make a big soup, sorts of bits of fish and meat in there,” he said. “And the smaller one would have had a longer handle and you could put an end to the fire, nice hot water after a cold night. I’ve seen a picture of one of these on a medieval manuscript where they’re cooking on the back of a whale.”

But Cousins said the “most spectacular” discoveries were gray slabs with two different designs. 

“These are in immaculate condition, like they were carved yesterday. You can still see all the chisel marks,” he said. 

The Mortar Wreck was found in the Poole Bay, off Dorset, in southern England. The area was recently given legal protection to help preserve the site. Archaeologists hope to raise funds to be able to continue their exploration and learn more about this piece of history on the sea’s floor.

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