The British recovered ancient tombstones from the bottom of the English Channel (4 photos)

Category: Archeology, PEGI 0+
17 June 2024

British archaeologists have recovered medieval tombstones from a sunken ship. Bournemouth University announced the discovery in a press release on June 7. Memorials were found in Studland Bay, off the Dorset coast. They lay at the bottom of the English Channel for 800 years.

"The slabs, carved from Purbeck marble, sank with a ship off the Dorset coast during the reign of Henry III in the 13th century," the press release explains. Henry III, son of King John, took the throne in 1216 and reigned until his death in 1272.

The tombstones are perfectly preserved, except that one of them was covered with balanuses.

Marine archaeologists worked for more than two hours to bring the artifacts to the surface.

"One perfectly preserved slab measures 1.5 m in size and weighs approximately 70 kg. The other, larger one, consists of two parts, its total length is 2 m, and its weight is about 200 kg."

The monuments may have been intended for members of the clergy who were revered in medieval English society.

Tom Cousins, who led the study, said the stone from which the slabs were made was also found in Westminster Abbey, Canterbury and Salisbury Cathedrals.

"The ship sank during the heyday of the stone industry in Purbeck, and the gravestones we see here were used for bishops and archbishops in all the cathedrals and monasteries of England at that time," he added.

Experts are already cleaning and preserving the slabs, which will be presented to the public next year.

The shipwreck was first discovered in 1982, but was mistaken for a pile of debris on the seabed. The value was only realized in 2019, when Tom and a team from the university completed the dive.

“The artifacts will allow the Bournemouth team to learn more about life in the 13th century and the ancient craft of masons,” the university concluded.

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