This week: shipwrecks

Artwork of HMS Invincible by John Hood. IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons.

On 11 October 1982, an estimated global audience of 60 million people tuned in to watch one of the televisual events of the decade: the long-awaited raising of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s ill-fated Tudor flagship, from the seabed near Portsmouth, where it had rested since capsizing while fighting against the French at the Battle of the Solent 437 years previously.

Forty years on from that memorable day, it seems fitting this week on The Past to bring you the latest research into another significant shipwreck in the waters of the Solent – that of the ground-breaking 74-gun HMS Invincible, the first ship of its kind in the Royal Navy, which sank in 1758 after hitting a sand bank outside Portsmouth Harbour. Re-discovered in 1979, and described by some as the missing link between the Mary Rose and HMS Victory, the Invincible remains the best-preserved 18th-century warship known in UK waters.

In the new issue of Current Archaeology magazine, marine archaeologist Daniel Pascoe talks to Carly Hilts about the long-running struggle to protect the wreck, and to excavate the extraordinary artefacts now on show in Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744, an exhibition currently at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. Pascoe also discusses the history and archaeology of the wreck further on an episode of The PastCast, which you can listen to here.

Elsewhere this week on The Past, we have been diving into the archives to discover more about the archaeology of shipwrecks: we visited Hastings to study the remains of the most complete surviving example of a Dutch East India Company trading vessel; we headed to Scotland’s west coast to see what the wreck of a Cromwellian warship can tell us about 17th-century naval life; and we even learned how the landmark Protection of Wrecks Act in 1973 prompted the country as a whole to take the preservation of shipwrecks more seriously.

And finally, if all that simply whets your appetite for undersea adventures, don’t forget to have a go at our latest themed Quiz, which this week is also focused on the history of shipwrecks. Good luck, and we hope you enjoy The Past!

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