Scilly’s Museum To Receive More Artefacts From Colossus Wreck

CISMAS artefact from ColossusThe Isles of Scilly Museum will be presented with artefacts raised from the HMS Colossus wreck this week.

They’re being handed over by a group of volunteer divers from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Maritime Archaeology Society, who are starting their second week of a fortnight-long programme of salvage work.

Last year they retrieved gun deck blocks, which have been conserved by specialists at York Archaeological Trust.

They’ll be given to the museum along with medieval pottery lifted in the Tresco Channel and uniform buttons.

Last year the volunteers were maintaining and extending the divers trail, which provides a guide to the Colossus site, when they uncovered more historic material including delicate ropes and fabrics.

They’ve returned to investigate after shifting sands have exposed more items around 30 metres from the main wreck site.

Kevin Camidge of CISMAS says their discoveries will reveal more about life in Georgian times.

He’s particularly interested in a ‘ditty bag,’ which would have been owned by a rank and file marine serving on the sunken ship and was full of personal effects, like leather shoes and a bone-handled brush.

Other items found in the bag included the remains of a uniform jacket, 60 pewter jacket buttons and a bronze canon model.

Dive supervisor Brendon Rowe says the gun found in that bag has made an impression on him.

He said it was a very personal item carried by the marine, possibly as a present for his children back home.

A recent CISMAS discovery at the Colossus site has challenged previous assumptions over how ships were rigged.

Kevin says they found a pair of ‘dead eyes,’ the wooden blocks used to tension the shrouds that hold the mast up.

The way these were assembled suggest that the rigging technique was different to that expected for a ship of this period.

The team are hoping the weather will hold. They’ve only lost one day to rough conditions although visibility can vary from 2m to 10m due to the tides.

Kevin says they need to do as much as they can now because as soon as the material is exposed, it starts to decay, meaning a good record has to be made as quickly as possible.

This could be the last CISMAS exploration on the Colossus site for a while. Although the divers give their time freely, it’s an expensive operation, relying on grant funding, which is under review.

HMS Colossus, a 74-gun warship, was wrecked in 1798 after her anchor cable snapped while riding out a storm near Samson.