1619: “Unrecoverably lost” in Castle Harbour

At the end of November, 1619, the English galleon Warwick was preparing to depart from Castle Harbour, Bermuda. She was magazine ship bringing desperately needed supplies to the struggling Virginia colony of Jamestown.

Warwick would not complete her voyage. The storm that would end her was on its way.

With full sails, the galleon Warwick may have once looked like this vessel.

Warwick’s crew knew a powerful storm was brewing off Bermuda’s jagged coast. It is possible that if the captain had anticipated the strength of the approaching hurricane he would have sent the ship to sea, to ride out the surge in deep water. Instead, he had the ship anchored in Castle Harbour, hoping that the sheer limestone cliffs would protect her from the fearsome wind. The crew prepared for the storm, sealing the ship and lashing down her cannons.

Castle Roads, (after John Smith, 1624)

The limestone cliffs, seen on a calm day, that shelter Castle Harbour from southerly winds. Warwick now lies in their shadow.

Warwick was not the only vessel seeking shelter from the late November storm. Anchored nearby was a smaller vessel, Garland. The vessels pitched and heaved, fighting the ferocious north-westerly. Battling the wind, Garland’s crew rallied and cut down her masts, saving her from destruction, though she would sink a few years later, nor far off.

Warwick was not so lucky. Her anchor’s came home. Beyond control, she crashed into the reefs that lined the base of the same limestone cliffs that her Captain had hoped would preserve her. Her hull breeched, she took on water and rolled onto her starboard side.

Archaeologists examine the remains of Warwick’s starboard side. ¬© 2010 Warwick Project, Jon Adams

To this day, all that is left of the sturdy ship is her starboard side. Her remains were rediscovered in the summer of 1967 and excavated by legendary Bermudian diver Teddy Tucker.

Building on the fieldwork from 1967 and 1979, our mission is to completely excavate, document and publish the ship. 2012 is the third and last year of excavation that will be undertaken by the Bermuda Maritime Museum and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Join our team as we reveal Warwick’s secrets, day by day!

– Doug Inglis

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One response to “1619: “Unrecoverably lost” in Castle Harbour

  1. Pingback: Archaeologists in the Kings Castle | Diving | Archaeology·

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