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Historic items from legendary warship displayed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham

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Historic items from legendary warship displayed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham 

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Dave Parham (Bournemouth University Lecturer)

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has inspected a number of important and historic artefacts from the shipwreck HMS Invincible recovered by a team of experts from Bournemouth University (BU), the Marine Archaeology Sea Trust (MAST) and the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN). 

His Royal Highness was visiting The Historic Dockyard Chatham as part of a wider visit to Kent on Wednesday 2 February. 

The artefacts which have been entombed underwater for over 200 years will be on display to the public at the Historic Dockyard Chatham from 12 February to 20 November 2022. 

They are a huge educational resource that help bring understanding to life on-board an 18th Century Royal Navy warship. 

During three years of excavation work  the team recovered significant finds such as swivel guns, a gun port lid, the mainstay and even a mop head and bucket. 

The most major excavation of the project was to lift the cutwater – the front most part of the ship – weighing over 5.8 tonnes and over 9 metres in length – it still has its original hand-carved draft marks cut into it, showing how deep the ship sat in the water. 

Other finds include a clay pipe, a wig curler and a number of bottles – some with their contents still preserved.

Dan Pascoe, Research Fellow of Maritime Archaeology and site Archeologist, said: “When I was asked to become the ‘guardian’ of this Historic Wreck I jumped at the chance. There are around 60 wrecks around the UK but this one was at particular risk of being lost forever. 

“Exploring a ship that hadn’t seen the light of day for over 200 years was a true honour. Recovering items that had been placed in that very position by a sailor or soldier all those years ago was like stepping back in time. We were able to piece together how objects were used, the lives and culture of the people on board, and how the ship worked. 

“Every item was carefully logged and conserved by a team of conservationists and volunteers so this historic haul could be displayed for people to enjoy for years to come. The excavated collection is now on display for the first time at the Historic Dockyard Chatham and we can’t wait for people to discover more about this legendary ship.” 

Divers recovering artefacts from HMS Invincible,

For more information on the exhibit at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, visit: https://thedockyard.co.uk/whats-on/diving-deep-hms-invincible-1744/

About HMS Invincible 

Originally L’Invincible, she was built in France on the banks of the River Charente, at Rochefort in 1744. Invincible was a new 74 gunship, designed to fight all around the world, protecting France’s overseas Empire and merchant fleets.Her service in the French Navy was short as she was captured by a superior British fleet commanded by Admiral Anson at the first Battle of Finisterre on the 3rd May 1747. 

Her fine lines attracted great attention and would go onto influence the design of future British warships, becoming the backbone of the Navy right up until the Battle of Trafalgar. 

Her career in the British Navy came to an unexpected end. On the 19th February 1757 Invincible was given orders to weigh anchor and begin the voyage to Louisbourg (modern day

Nova Scotia) to fight the French. However, a series of calamitous events led to her wrecking on a shallow sand bank. 

The first HMS Invincible, captured from the French in 1747 and sunk off the coast of the Solent in 1758, has been excavated by archaeologists and divers from Bournemouth University (BU) and the Marine Archaeology Sea Trust (MAST). 

The ship was rediscovered in 1979 by a local fisherman, and designated as an Historic Wreck in 1980. 

An emergency excavation was needed to recover the contents of this revolutionary 74-gun ship warship before they were lost.

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