The Swash Channel Shipwreck

Contributed by Poole Museum

A merman carving found on the Swash Channel Wreck. © Bournemouth University

The carved merman is the most spectacular find to date from a wonderfully preserved 17th century armed merchant's ship, whose voyage ended at the mouth of Poole Harbour. The merman suggests a ship of considerable status and expense.

The wreck itself was first discovered in 1990 and then rediscovered in 2004. The sand, which had swallowed the ship, was eroding, revealing an extraordinary vessel. Finds from the ship so far have included cannons, gun carriages, deck shoes, a pewter jug and a sealed alum jar. Unlike many shipwrecks the ship's upper works still remain. However, it is also one of the most threatened shipwrecks in the UK. Erosion and an aggressive shipworm, which has moved into British waters due to global warming, are just two of the main threats to the wreck.

Tests reveal that the timber comes from Germany or the Low Countries. The ship's exact identity remains a mystery - for now.

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