Poole Museum will officially unveil the Swash Channel Wreck Rudder on 22 March and it will be on display at Poole Museum from 23 March.
The Swash Channel Wreck, as it has come to be known, was discovered in 2004 during surveying of the main shipping channel in Poole Harbour.
A beautifully decorated, armed, Dutch merchant vessel, is thought to have wrecked on Hook Sands, Poole Harbour, during a storm in the early 17th century. The wreck is significant not only because of its age, but also because of its distinct carvings, indicative of high status and wealth.
The sand that had been protecting the wreckage and the intricate carvings were slowly being washed away, resulting in the ship’s timbers being exposed to, and destroyed by, marine organisms.
In 2005, Bournemouth University started work on the site, with a large-scale excavation, funded by Historic England, beginning in 2010. In 2013 the 8.5 metre high, carved rudder was excavated and conserved by the York Archaeological Trust. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, a three-year drying process took place to ensure that the rudder would not deteriorate any further. The rudder’s intricate carving of a man’s head, a long standing tradition among Dutch ships, is a shining and rare example of baroque craftsmanship, and after its three year drying process the rudder has now been returned to Poole to be on display in Poole Museum.
Cllr Mohan Iyengar, cabinet member for Culture in the Borough of Poole said, “I hope people will agree that we’ve had some truly great exhibits in Poole Museum over the past year. The rudder of the Swash Channel Wreck is another example – a beautiful piece and a part of Poole’s marine heritage, which will be open for viewing. We thank Bournemouth University, the York Archaeological Trust, Historic England, and the Heritage Lottery Fund for its preservation and I encourage everyone to call into the museum to see it displayed. ”
Ian Panter from York Archaeological Trust commented, “Its been a real privilege and very exciting to be conserving the rudder, artefacts and structures from the Swash Channel Wreck. York Archaeological Trust is very happy to be involved with this important maritime archaeological project and fruitful collaboration with Bournemouth University.”
Marine archaeologist Dave Parham led the university team who worked on the Swash Channel site. “Bournemouth University was involved in this project in its very earliest days and has brought it through the investigation of the site – its significance and risks – the rescue excavation and research, and now the display. The showcasing of this rudder is a chance to give this project to the public so that they can engage with it too.”
The beautifully carved rudder will be on display at Poole Museum from 23 March. Entrance to the museum is free.
For more information about Poole Museum visit www.poolemuseum.co.uk.