Unidentified Artefacts relating to Men O'War
The photograph below shows two lead containers, of which five similar objects are known to exist in the world, which after 20 years research still continue to baffle marine archaeologists and naval historians.
Similar objects have been found by divers on the wreck sites of HM. man o'war Colossus, Association, Northumberland, Mary, what is believed to be the Warwick, in the West Indies, and the captured Dutch fly-boat Schiedam, which had been taken into naval service. The two lugs on each container suggest they were either for suspending the object, or else to take nails or screws, should they have been attached to a piece of wood inserted into them. Of these two possibilities, the former is more likely. As to their use we can still only guess, the parameters being that they are only found on the wreck sites of English men o'war or ships carrying war stores, between 1676-1750.
The present trend of thought is that they may have been suspended by cord or line from the deckhead, one to each gun deck, and held a lighted candle stub. This was then possibly a ready source of fire for gun captains to relight their linstocks should they be blown out whilst firing the guns, a not infrequent happening as the powder in the touch hole spurted flame and smoke upwards. These two examples, from the Association and Colossus, both in the Isles of Scilly, will be available to members to examine at the forth-coming meeting in Topsham, when it is hoped someone may be able to make a positive identification.
Editors note: - As you may know Richard is connected with the Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre. However, since he is generally out and about you can best contact him at Ropewalk House, Charlestown, St.Austell, Cornwall PL25 3NN. Telephone 01726 731
From Richard Larn
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