Historic England protects three shipwrecks
Historic England wrote:
Shipwrecks have been a source of inspiration to English writers, artists and scholars for centuries – from Shakespeare to Enid Blyton, whose Famous Five spent a whole summer exploring a fictional Cornish wreck. This summer, these wrecks have been given special protection, and they include two that are often publicly accessible from the Devon sands.
Shifting sands and weather patterns can allow the public to see sights that are usually the preserve of divers. When the conditions are right, visitors to Devon can see this important historic coastal fabric, which has now been identified and given state protection, from dry land. Dating from the late Medieval period to the late 18th century, all three wrecks are rare survivals of wooden sailing vessels found in English waters and are protected for their potential to shed new light on key periods of England's maritime history.
The earliest wreck, known as the Axe Boat, lies in a mud bank on the west side of the Axe River in south Devon. Before appearing out of the mud in 2001 following changes in the flow of the River Axe, the wreck was unrecorded, suggesting it has remained buried in the riverbed within living memory. It’s a rare example of vessels of the late medieval period and dating of extracted samples of wood indicates that it was built between 1400 and 1640. The hull retains characteristic features of medieval ships such as the ‘crook’d floor’ – a Y-shaped framing timber at the bottom of the vessel.
The Axe Boat is likely to have been used in coastal trade or fishing and such vessels were once prolific as England’s mercantile trade developed. Axmouth was ranked as a major port by the mid-14th century and accounted for 15% of the country’s shipping trade.
The other two wrecks lie a few hundred metres apart on the sands at Northam Burrows Country Park in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in North Devon. They date to the late 18th century and have been exposed by the elements a number of times over the past few decades, most recently following the winter storms of 2014.
The larger wreck at Westward Ho! (23metres long x 7 metres wide) is nationally important because it still retains its key identifying features despite the effects of erosion, with the ship’s construction and orientation clearly visible. It is believed to be the remains of the 'Sally', which ran aground on the sands in 1769, while bound from Oporto in Portugal to Bristol with a cargo of port wine.
The smaller boat was probably a Severn Trow, a small merchant ship working locally in the Bristol Channel coastline around 200 years ago. It is lying at such an angle that it appears to have been driven ashore in a storm. 11,000 vessels are known to have been wrecked in England waters in the late 18th century and few from this period have been discovered other than naval ships or important trading vessels such as East India Company ships. Together, the two wrecks are significant because they represent England's commercial ambitions of the time.
All three wrecks lie in sand or in mud in the inter-tidal zone so are freely accessible to visit on public land at the points when they are uncovered. No diving licence is required, though attention must be given to local tidal conditions.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Heritage assets.
- Historic England.
- IHBC articles.
- Institute of Historic Building Conservation.
- Listed buildings.
- Scheduled monuments.
 External references
One of the most stunning Roman finds ever unearthed in Britain has been discovered on the site of a new housing development in a village near Scarborough.
The latest issue (no.167) of the IHBC’s membership journal Context is now out, boasting a tight focus on Urban Design, with a distinctly international take.
Europa Nostra has announced the list together with its partner, the European Investment Bank Institute.
Work is underway on an ambitious project to virtually ‘clone’ Bradford city centre, as a ‘Digital twin’ will open the door to a 3D world with virtually endless possibilities.
The support will create dozens of opportunities in heritage repair and construction and waterways management, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions.
The 2021 edition of the Building Conservation Directory, also available online, has been published. Find skilled trades specialising in work to historic and traditional buildings.
BT has revealed that almost 4,000 of its iconic red phone boxes across the UK are available for local communities to adopt for just £1.
On 26 March the IHBC, led by Prof. John Edwards, hosted a free one-hour CPD webinar ‘Introduction to Building Survey for Retrofit’ for sector professionals.
Greg Clark, writing an opinion piece for RICS, explores how good governance in cities pays dividends.
The Architectural Heritage Fund has issued a report on the first year of its ‘Transforming Places Through Heritage’ grants programme, funded by DCMS.