Race against the tide: How the most important shipwreck since the Mary Rose could disappear within five years
Last updated at 9:36 AM on 9th May 2011
It has been under seven metres of water off the Dorset coast for the last 400 years.
But now conservationists worry that one of the most important ships since the Mary Rose might disappear within five years.
The unidentified ship, known only as the Swash Channel Wreck, was found at the entrance to Poole harbour and it lies on a flat sand and shingle seabed where it sank some time between 1600 and 1620.
Its ornate timbers - the earliest known still to exist - have been preserved by sand. That is until the changing currents and tides have moved much of the sand, leaving it exposed to bacteria and aquatic ship worms.
Daily Mail grab from BBC of Swash channel wreckThe Swash Channel Wreck, which has been on the sea bed for the last 400 years, could disappear within five years if it is left to the elements
The intricate woodwork suggests that the ship was from the German-Dutch border and belonged to someone of a high status
The discovery of the unidentified ship is said to be the most important since that of the King Henry VIII's English Navy warship the Mary Rose, above
The ship is believed to have been of a relatively high status for the period and one of the timbers was dated as being felled some time soon after 1585.
Among its features is a 8.4 metre long rudder that has the carving of a man's head on its upper portion.
In 2004 it was designated as a Historic Wreck under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 and so now there is pressure to preserve it before it disappears.
'The damage there has increased dramatically since we first started studying it,' David Payton, senior lecturer in marine archaeology at Bournemouth University told the Independent on Sunday. 'It's a race - you've only got a certain amount of time before it's too late and there's no point.
It is hoped that part of the wreck can be lifted and put into Poole museum while the rest of it is reburied and left in the sea
Conservationists only have a certain amount of time before it is too late and there is no point in saving the wreck
'It's been buried until now, but in the last four or five years it's become exposed.
'The longer the wreck is exposed, the more damaged it will be. If nothing were done within the next five years there'd be nothing left.'
Despite scouring hundreds of records, nothing has been found to identify the ship but it is believed it came from the German-Dutch border.
The easiest way to preserve the ship would be to rebury it, but that would create a mound in one of the busiest shipping channels so historians hope to lift and preserve some sections at Poole Museum.
The ship is to feature in Britain's Secret Seas, a BBC series that starts tonight and will uncover some of the country's underwater treasures.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1384795/How-important-shipwreck-Mary-Rose-disappear-years.html#ixzz1LrM7hHmr