Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Old gold and silver.

Out of all the people  who I know that dig the coast I am probably the only one who has any trust in authority when it comes to disclosing finds .One reason I do that, is because I am well aware that any found historic artifact  without a provenance is  meaningless.
Personally,  I just cannot bear the thought of a proven historical item found on the Thanet coast being relegated as if it is nothing just because the find has not been recorded or documented somewhere. During the 1970's to the mid 1990's this was a major problem on the Thanet coastline especially with the availability of metal detectors and the after effects of storm of 1978. So many items were found and very little recorded. I know that today things have changed thanks entirely to the internet as there is the portable antiquity schemes and there is self publicity like blogging that enables people  to share finds. But I still often reflect back on the missed opportunities in the past.

One story I know is about a wreck discovered on the very low water mark at Birchington. I have never visited the site and  I not entirely sure of the location but I do know enough to tell a story as told by the finder in the early 1990's
The site of the wreck was once a bank covered in mussels and shingle and for some unexplained reason it just eroded away when the mussels disappeared in a storm.There was very little wooden structure but there were scattered items over an area. There were many small flat bricks on the site that must have been a cargo acting as ballast.I had one of these bricks and it is now in the Margate museum. The interesting thing about this brick it that is identical to the type used around the base of the chimney stack around the Tudor House which looks like a repair.On the site three items were found that helped to date the site, one was a musket stock that still had the trigger guard intact. When the trigger guard was removed 1714 in roman numerals was found to be carved in the wood alongside a broad arrow. Six Half Crowns, one shilling and one sixpence were found bearing the head of William III (1690's) they were found almost in a straight line suggesting that they may have came out of an object rolling along on the sea bed. Then there was a complete onion bottle found full of solidified silt I examined the bottle  and it was definitely an onion design and not a mallet transition design. The finder also retrieved a bucket of shards of Dutch delftware tiles many with Dutch  windmill and barge scenes.Clay pipes were found along with buckles and buttons. The clay pipes were thick stems with small bowls and when I checked them out from memory in later years and I am convinced they are to the styles as recognized from the early 1700's. The finder also had a bucket full of musket balls that were still joined as moulded. Other finds included shards of earthenware and thin glass. There were no cannons on the site or anything large as I expect at the time of the vessel going aground as much as possible was salvaged as it was in shallow water.
Eventually in the 1990's the site was to silt over and only the finder knows the exact location.
The finder did give me some pieces of Dutch delftware tile and some musket balls still moulded together of which I gave to the Margate museum along with the brick I mentioned earlier.
Along the coast shoreline down to the low water mark single finds from the late 1600's to the late Georgian era 1830 are extremely difficult to find. This story is and represents a gold mine of history unfortunately none of it has ever been recorded.

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