Identity of a 17th century ship wreck revealed

The identity of the shipwreck discovered in a sand and shingle bank outside Poole Harbour, Dorset, southern England, was revealed 4 years after its ornamented rudder was raised from the seabed and underwent successful conservation. The so-called Swash Channel Wreck was found to be a Dutch merchant vessel named The Fame.

Details of the wreck’s rudder (by Poole Museum)

The 17th century ship The Fame is believed to have sunk after being caught in a storm in March 1631. The recovered rudder measures nearly 8.5 metres and depicts a moustachioed face. The wreck had been initially discovered in the 1990s although its name remained a mystery until now. Historians were able to study historical records and analyse the timbers to confirm the ship as being The Fame. According to the researchers it was most likely going from the Netherlands to the Americas using Poole as a stopping-off point. The ship was owned by two Dutchmen, Hercules Garretson and Cornelius Veene. The captain was  John Jacobson Botemaker who used the ship to sail from its home port of Hoorn, near Amsterdam, on a voyage to the West Indies in January 1631. The remains of the wreck have now been covered in sand to protect it from the seawater but the ornamented rudder is put on public display at Poole Museum.

Wreck’s ornamented rudder (by Poole Museum)

(after BBC News & Poole Museum)

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