Recovering an anchor from the North Sea

IMAGE: The Mary Rose Trust

Through the combined efforts of ScottishPower Renewables and Maritime Archaeology Ltd, with support from Historic England, a wrought-iron anchor, possibly dating from the Roman period, was successfully raised from the North Sea in June of last year. The location of the anchor, approximately 40km off the coast of Suffolk, had been known to marine archaeologists since 2018, after it was discovered during survey work being carried out prior to the construction of the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm. Once all the details on how the anchor would be conserved and curated were confirmed, the team attempted a recovery in September 2020. The anchor was found to be covered by more than 4m of sand, however, highlighting that removal of such a large, yet delicate, artefact from the seabed is not an easy feat. After many hours of careful monitoring, the anchor was unearthed again in 2021, and this time the team made a successful recovery. It is more than 2m long and weighs in at around 100kg; its exact date has yet to be confirmed, but morphologically it appears to be Roman. If this is indeed the case, it would be only the fourth pre-Viking anchor to be recovered from northern European waters.

IMAGE: Maritime Archaeology Ltd

The anchor is currently undergoing careful conservation and research by the Mary Rose Trust, and it is hoped that it will go on permanent display at Ipswich Museum when the building (which is currently undergoing renovations) reopens in 2025.

Text: K Krakowka
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