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Possible significant maritime find in England


BANYAN

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Hi folks, this sounds fairly promising although not confirmed yet.

 

Henry V 'great ship' Holigost believed to be found in River Hamble in southern England  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-13/one-of-henry-v-great-ships-holigost-likely-found-in-england/6848774

 

and http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/the-holy-ghost-historian-pinpoints-final-resting-place-of-one-of-medieval-englands-greatest-ships-a6689901.html

 

cheers

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN

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As someone who grew up on the Hamble River, exploring the wrecks, the coves, inlets and the marshes of the river. As a kid, what's more exciting than that?!? I knew of the wreck of Gracedieu from an early age. I remember hearing stories of the wreck being "a Spanish Galleon seeking shelter from raging storms" and "an almighty French naval ship preparing to disembark it's troops to run amuck in the English countryside en route to London".
 
In 2000 (ish) a TV Archaeology team (Time Team) came and surveyed the wreck and they confirmed the wreck was in fact the 60+ metre Gracedieu. As far as I am aware they had a limited time to excavate and investigate the wreck (about 6 hours dive time a day for 1 week). The Hamble is probably the best place for a ship wreck, as the tidal range within the river is very low (Neap Tides - 2.6m to 4.8m / Spring Tides - 2.6m to 5.6m), but is very strong, often on the flood and ebb tidal periods. The chalky-clay silt is disrupted during each flood and ebb tidal period (lasting about 6 hours), and the silt ends up covering wrecks and obstructions of the flow of water/silt. Eventually the silt builds up over a wreck or obstruction and preserves almost all natural elements that can be found in that area (wood/iron/bone/leather).
 
The discovery of the Holigost is certainly ground breaking. The river spans a maximum of 300 m at the point where both wrecks are, so I'm generally impressed that both ships were able to get that far up river (about 16 to 18 Km from Southampton Water). The river certainly is deep enough for a large ship of up to 1200 Tonnes to transit as far Bursledon, but the river shallows out fairly sharply after that point.
 
HMS Elephant (1786) was built by George Parsons on the bank of the Hamble, on the meander of the river near Bursledon. The yard is now called the Elephant Boatyard, and I believe has been owned by the Parson family (in one guise or another) since then.
 
In 1905 (ish), a Celtic or Viking Longboat was discovered about 1 Km up river from the present location of the Gracedieu. The Longboat was found in what was known as Cathead Bay opposite Smugglers Creek. The wreck was discovered during dredging of the river to allow the owner of the adjoining land to move his livestock by river to Southampton. The longboat measured 20 m in length and was almost intact. I believe the wreck was excavated and removed during the 1950's.
 
My Grandparents have lived on the bank of the Hamble for nearly 50 years, and from their garden, there are wrecks of many vessels. Immediately on their part of the river bank is a wreck of a 19th Century Coal Trader. This was 90' in length and apparently was scuttled there after a fire on board, circa 1875.

The Norseman is another wreck on the Hamble (around Swanwick) that is of some importance. It was a regular trading Schooner, registered in Brooklyn, NY, to Southampton and the surrounding rivers and estuaries. The Norseman was built in 1886, and was wrecked by fire in 1949, some 63 years after being built. In 1926 (ish) the Schooner was sold to a private trader, and registered with Lloyds of London, with a home port of Southampton. The Norseman changed hands a few time between 1936 and 1949, and the reason for the fire that gutted her, is still unknown.

The two images below are wrecks of vessels abandoned either during or post WW2. The Hamble river was pivotal for the success of the D-Day Landings in 1944, where the whole river, the surrounding boatyards, and many of the vessels on the river were requisitioned by the War Effort to store and embark the troops and supplies on to Landing Craft, barges and Supply Ships. My Grandfather (aged 9) can remember being chased by two American Soldiers as he and some friends ran across the river from Swanwick to Bursledon via landing craft. They were then caught by three Canadian Soldiers and handed back to their mothers, and got a whip round the ear for being naughty.


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post-10675-0-55703500-1444723084.jpg
 
The hulk of the J Class yacht Velsheda was also kept in a mud berth on the Hamble, and had been left to rot there for some 40 or 50 years before being bought and restored by Terry Brabant in 1984.
 
Sorry for prattling on about all the wrecks and interesting facts about the Hamble River, but it's been my home for all my life, and it's such an interesting area to explore.
 
Cheers
Jonny

Edited by jonny.amy

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Follow the link below for history of the Gracedieu and the Holigost, including data from 720AD to 2008AD:

http://www.hants.gov.uk/rh/hamble/hamble-history.pdf

Cheers
Jonny

Current Build:
 
Caldercraft HM Cutter Sherbourne Kit Bash - Scale 1:64 - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/10547-hm-cutter-sherbourne-by-jonnyamy-caldercraft-kit-bash-scale-164/#entry317289
 
!!!ON HOLD!!! Mantura/Sergal HMS President - Scale 1:60 - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/5589-hms-president-by-jonnyamy-circa-1760-sergal-160/
 
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Caldercrafter HM Mortar Vessel Convulsion - Scale 1:64 - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/8593-hm-mortor-vessel-convulsion-by-jonnyamy/
 
SCRATCH BUILD - Vagabond 19 foot Sloop - Scale 1:20 - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/10172-vagabond-19-6-keel-sloop-pob-scale-120-by-jonnyamy-small/#entry302726

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Water levels now are possibly quite different from 1400s.  There is an inn in the town of Smallhythe, some 10 or 15 miles inland from Rye, with what was a shipbuilding dock in the garden.  The stream that runs from there to the sea was much deeper and some quite large ships were built there.  The dock was excavated and quantities of clencher nails found.  The Hamble was undoubtedly a fine river to use for storing old vessels, whether for future use or for salvage of the iron fittings.

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Further up the Hamble River, where the wrecks of the Gracedieu and (possible site of) Holigost are, is very sheltered from the weather.

The likelihood that the site of the wrecks was a larger staging area for the refitting of warships is great. Although the wind funnels up the river (mostly blowing SSW or WSW), due to the low lying valley sides, the worst of the wind is dispersed even when blowing from NNE or ENE.

 

This would make it an ideal place for a staging area or storage area for older generation ships that required refitting prior to going seaward. This is the closest secluded and shelter location to Portsmouth Naval Dockyard that would have offered such protection from the weather. Although Fareham Creek (about 10km further East) would have been an ideal place for the smaller ships of the time, it dries out completely and still does not offer the protection from the weather that the Hamble River does. Although the first drydock was built at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard in 1495, the likelihood it would have been capable of flooding to allow a ship in for drying out and complete overhaul, (I would think) is very slim.

 

So the Hamble River, alongside the Beauliee River (about 30 to 40km West of the Hamble) were probably the best place, to build, store, restore, and decommission warships at the time.

 

Cheers

Jonny

Current Build:
 
Caldercraft HM Cutter Sherbourne Kit Bash - Scale 1:64 - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/10547-hm-cutter-sherbourne-by-jonnyamy-caldercraft-kit-bash-scale-164/#entry317289
 
!!!ON HOLD!!! Mantura/Sergal HMS President - Scale 1:60 - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/5589-hms-president-by-jonnyamy-circa-1760-sergal-160/
 
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18th Century Longboat - Scale 1;48 - - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/11273-18th-century-longboat-model-shipways-by-jonnyamy/
 
Completed Builds:
 
40 Foot Gaff Cutter - Solid Hull Concept Model
 
Caldercrafter HM Mortar Vessel Convulsion - Scale 1:64 - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/8593-hm-mortor-vessel-convulsion-by-jonnyamy/
 
SCRATCH BUILD - Vagabond 19 foot Sloop - Scale 1:20 - http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/10172-vagabond-19-6-keel-sloop-pob-scale-120-by-jonnyamy-small/#entry302726

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Dunno how accurate it is, but in 'Henry V', Shakespeare has the fleet departing from Southampton.  Portchester, just inland from Portsmouth, has a fortified castle, some of which dates to Roman times.  As the harbors (there are several) along that coast silted in, or ships got larger, they moved the principal port to take account of changing situations.  In other words, Southampton, not Portsmouth may have been the Naval port in the 1400s.

A dock might be dug out enough to get a ship in on the highest tides, then the end blocked and the water pumped out.  When the work was done, the block was removed and the tide allowed to come in and float the ship out.  The block might be an earthen dike in early times.  The one at Smallhythe might well have been of this kind.

Buckler's Hard, on the Beaulieu River, just to the southwest, was used even for quite large ships up into the 1700s, and still has a maritime role.

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Wow... Jonny, thanks for the personal insight into the area.   Along with all the other posts and news articles, this has been great reading.

Mark
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This is very exciting indeed. I'd already heard of the Grace Dieu find and the Time Team excavation, but I knew nothing of the Holigost. I await developments with great interest.

 

I have to say, however, that the artist's reconstruction has to be wrong - it shows a ship from the 1470's, of a type I like to call a 'proto-carrack' - very similar in form to a carrack but with a single mast. But according to the report here the Holigost was a Spanish ship captured by the English in 1413/14 and rebuilt in 1415. 

 

If she was leaking badly by 1423, with the mast and rigging removed by 1426, abandoned by 1430, and sunk by 1452, it's very unlikely she was new when she was first captured. Her date of building has to be no later than 1413 and very likely quite a few years - or even some decades - earlier.

 

This puts her much closer in date to the Bremen cog, sunk while still under construction in 1380. And contemporary representations of ships from the first decades of the 15th century look much more like cogs than carracks - such as the ships in the second picture here and the attached picture from the above linked article, which though it's dated 1420-30 is still very much like cogs from 50 years earlier.

 

The problem is that the great majority of commonly available mediaeval representations of ships from the Hundred Years War were done well after the events - the best known being from the Gruuthus version of Froissart's Chronicles, produced in the 1470s and 1480s, but portraying events of up to 100 years earlier. 

 

I'm hoping that as more is discovered a more accurate reconstruction drawing will be produced.

 

Steven 

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Edited by Louie da fly
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  • 2 weeks later...

You might be interested in the blog of the guy who first proposed that the remains of the Holigost might be in the Hamble. It's currently the top entry of the blog, but will presumably go down the list as other items get added. Anyhow, it's dated October 15, 2015.

 

The other entries are pretty cool, too.

 

Steven

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Interesting reading; thanks Stephen

 

cheers

 

Pat

If at first you do not suceed, try, and then try again!
Current build: HMCSS Victoria (Scratch)

Next build: HMAS Vampire (3D printed resin, scratch 1:350)

Built:          Battle Station (Scratch) and HM Bark Endeavour 1768 (kit 1:64)

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  • 7 years later...

Because people dismiss the Viking Ship attribution of Grace Dieu, which persisted up to 1920s, they seem to discard what happened to it before then. About half the wreck was removed at various times. I have given an account of this in a book self-published on Amazon KDP last year - "Fake Heritage - solving mysteries" (Tom Welsh) in Chapter 16. Archaeologists blame Crawshay who was actually very careful. According to recent archaeology writers they scoff at him for thinking he was an archaeologist, like 'modern archaeologists' were around then. Wood was taken at various times for commemorative purposes, including an inkstand for Edward VII. Various attempts were made to lift it, one plan in 1901 to display it by the Alfred monument. By just dealing with the history from  the recognition as Grace Dieu loses so much

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