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- Map Reference
- Grid Reference
- Unitary (Local) Authority
- Old County
- Type of Site
- Broad Class
- Post Medieval
This site is designated as a Historic Wreck under Protections of Wrecks Act 1973 (Designation Order 4 1974). The protected area around the wreck is a radius of 100m from the co-ordinate 53 25 16N 04 36 40W. Diving or any interference including filming, survey and excavation within the protected area of a designated wreck is a criminal offence unless a license has first been obtained from the Welsh Government. Cadw should be contacted in the first instance. Http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/
The MARY capsized and quickly broke up after wrecking. The vessel's ballast of old iron shot and lead ingots was tipped out and may have trapped fragmented deck timbers, loose deck items, and small artifacts under what is now a heavily concreted ballast mound measuring 4m x 3m x 1m. Earlier work on the site suggests that only two gullies, which extend from 5m to 25m water depth, are likely to contain any further archaeological material. The fill of the rocky gullies consists of loose sands, gravels and boulders under which lies very hard concretion. At the shore end of one of the gullies is a very large boulder which has recently fallen from the rocky outcrop. The site is at the base of a 15m cliff forming part of Cave Point, Ynys Arw, The Skerries. The site is very exposed to southerly and westerly winds, and made more hazardous still by strong currents.
Event and Historical Information:
The MARY was built by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1660 and purchased by the City of Amsterdam, embellished and given to Charles II when he was restored to the English throne. Descriptions of the MARY's construction, dimensions and equipment are contained within the archives in Amsterdam. The vessel's subsequent history is referred to in the contemporary diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. The vessel was built for speed and had leeboards in order to combine a large sail area with a shallow draught. A long spar or spit supported the mainsail (e.g. gaff rigged). However, Charles II wanted a faster vessel improving on the design. The following year Phineas Pett built the KATHERINE for his use. The MARY was demoted to transporting officials between Dublin and Holyhead.
On 25 March 1675, the MARY was on passage from Dublin to Chester with a crew of 28, plus 3 noblemen and 43 other passengers. The passengers included the Earl of Ardglass, and the Earl of Meath and his son. The vessel encountered thick fog and struck the south west corner of the Skerries. The tall mast was touching the rocky outcrop and allowed 39 of the passengers and crew to scramble ashore to be rescued some 2 days later. The survivors were able to make a fire with a cask of gunpowder and wreck timbers to roast some mutton. A `runlet of Usquebough' also washed ashore and the survivors were able to divide this wine amongst them to drink.
There are no historical records of any salvage attempts, possibly due to the exposed nature of the site. The wreck site was found on 11 July 1971 by the members of the Chorley and Merseyside branches of the British Sub Aqua Club, one of the Bronze cannons was landed on the same day. A joint expedition was agreed working with Liverpool University, but in the interim at least four guns were removed from the site which prompted a rapid rescue operation. These guns were subsequently recovered and placed into the care of the Receiver of Wrecks. The nine bronze guns, a large iron anchor, finds of both organic and inorganic materials, and concretions were taken to Liverpool City Museums Conservation Department. The MARY appears to have carried three sizes of ordnance; two Dutch, six English and one small degraded and unidentified gun of continental origin. All are muzzle loaders. The Dutch guns are four pounders and have the maker's mark `Gerald Koster 1660'. The small gun may be from the wreck of another nearby 19th century vessel. Human remains were recovered in 1975 and were determined to be from two individuals. Investigations of the site have continued, including a down stream search which failed to find any other significant remains. The National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside now have over 1500 objects from the shipwreck, and have a model of the original vessel on display. In 2008, the Museum published the excavation report and a listing of the artefacts recovered (see Tanner below in sources).
Davies, P N, 1978, The Discovery and Excavation of the Royal Yacht Mary, Maritime Wales/Cymru a'r' Môr 3: pg 25-32
Evans, D E, 2007, Troubled Waters, pg 43-50
Fenwick, V and Gale A, 1999, Historic Shipwrecks: Discovered, Protected, and Investigated, Tempus Publishing, pg112-3.
Gater, D, 1992, Historic Shipwrecks of Wales, pg94-5
Robert, O, 1998, That the Royal Yacht Mary is certainly shipwrecked, Maritime Wales/Cymru a'r' Môr 19: pgs 50-5
State Papers Domestic, 1675 (Car II, 369, No 109, 11), transcribed from original within The National Archives, Kew
Tanner, M, 2008, Royal Yacht Mary: Th