WW1 Rathlin Island wreck gets monument status

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

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image copyrightDAERA
image captionDivers from all over Europe come to the wreck of HMS Drake

A World War One cruiser sunk off Rathlin Island has been made a listed monument.

HMS Drake was torpedoed by a German U boat off the island in 1917 with the loss of 19 lives and went down a short time later in Church Bay.

It has been a popular dive site for many years.

The listing will mean that divers can still access the wreck but will not be able to remove anything from it.

image copyrightDept for Communities
image captionHMS Drake sank off Rathlin in 1917

The remains of the ship are considerable with anchors, guns and steering gear still intact and clearly visible.

Senior archaeologist with the Department for Communities Liam McQuillan said the designation gave the wreck its proper recognition "as a site of national importance".

image copyrightDAERA
image captionThe wreck is a popular dive site

There will be no exclusion zone and the listing will not mean a licensing system for dives.

Marine Archaeologist Rory McNeary from the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs said he would "actively encourage divers to visit the site but to take photos rather than souvenirs".

image captionA marker buoy now floats above the wreck

Three lighthouses on Rathlin are also being protected, including the oldest one on the island, the East Lighthouse.

image copyrightDepartment for Communities
image captionThe East Lighthouse is one of three lighthouses which are also being protected

It has stood on Rathlin for the last 150 years.

The West Lighthouse at the RSPB sea bird centre has been given a Grade A listing.

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