Civil War Wreck Discovered Off St Mary’s

A cannon found by Todd Stevens.

A cannon found by Todd Stevens.

A St Mary’s diver says he may have found the wreck of one of the frigates that changed the course of the Civil War in Scilly.

Todd Stevens has found 17th century weapons and anchors on a previously unrecorded wreck in shallow water at Doctors Keys.

And Todd believes it’s one of the two Royalist ships that protected St Mary’s and prevented the Parliamentarian, Admiral Blake, from taking Scilly’s largest island, even after his forces had captured Tresco.

The ships were recorded as being wrecked near the Garrison during a storm on 10th May 1651.

The disaster left the way open for the Parliamentarians to take the whole of Scilly, and therefore gain a tactical advantage in the war that they eventually went on to win.

Todd says the identity of the two ships that were wrecked has always been a mystery, because the Royalist losses weren’t recorded well at the time.

They were described as their “two best frigates” so probably had at least 20 guns each, says Todd.

The wreck he’s found doesn’t have that number of cannons, but that could have been because the wreck was in shallow water, around 2-4 meters in depth, which means it was probably salvaged at the time.



12 Responses to Civil War Wreck Discovered Off St Mary’s

  1. Nimis Non est Satis October 12, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Any updates on the wreck of the pirate ship? The John wasn’t it?

    • Todd Stevens October 12, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      Crikey, that project was a long time ago! Basically, I went as far as I could with it. I wanted to excavate the site for further evidence but that was when bureaucracy started getting in the way. Where once sport divers could excavate and record for free, now they have to gain government licenses- in other words- fill in lots of pointless forms and pay lots of money. As a result, now we can only go on what is on view on the sea bed; making the job of shipwreck identification almost an impossibility.

  2. Todd Stevens October 8, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks folks! Its just about bringing Scilly’s history alive and then sharing it. I dont see the harm. Perhaps some people simply dont like that subject whereas I absolutely love it. It’d be a sorry world if we were all the same!!

    • Gromit October 10, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Well said

  3. Jeff Eastick October 8, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Best to ignore the sniping comments from idiots who hide under the cloak of anonymity , Todd , and get on with what you obviously enjoy doing.

  4. Colin Godwin October 6, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Well done Todd , hope you have all the success in your project . Our team are still involved with the Dollar Site at Gunwalloe of which you know about .

    Best
    Colin Godwin

  5. Brenda Brown October 5, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Another sceptic who does not have the bottle to put his real name.

    • Greta Green October 7, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Quite so Brenda both you and Jeff always front up for your comments. Well done Mr Stevens.

      • Bella Blue October 8, 2015 at 7:00 pm

        Tremendous achievement Mr Stephens there cannot be too many wrecks left to find now.

        • Todd Stevens October 9, 2015 at 4:58 pm

          As I explained, I am a couple of years ahead as this wreck was found two years ago. There are still lots more to find and I’m already working on another project which will run its course just in the same way as this one.

  6. Oh look what I found October 5, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Hmmmmmmm…. Todd Stevens at his best!

    • Todd Stevens October 5, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Yes you are probably correct. First I have to verify local wreck lists by getting any original source documents to prove to myself the incident actually occurred. Most local lists do not provide this. This takes time. Then, when satisfied the project may be worth the effort and expense- I pick my target area (and hoping its correct) I survey that area for hours on end. This costs time and money. In this case there were 23 anomalies to investigate in my target area. Then I start diving them- each dive costs a minimum of 3 hours time and about £15 per dive. Doing this I found 4 separate bits of Cita container and contents. 2 wrought iron drain pipes. 1 area of unidentifiable iron bits and window glass. 1 large iron frame. 6 lost lobster pots. 2 rudder gudgeons. 3 anchors 1 iron winch and 4 cannons. I saw evidence of 3 different shipwrecks, however the 4 guns and 1 of the anchors which are close together are of the correct date I was looking for. All this stuff is found in very thick weed were quite often I can pass very close to an anomaly and not see it. For instance, I found this wrecks anchor on one dive but failed to find it on 3 more in order to get a good GPS mark on it…and I knew that it was there somewhere! I then have to search the area around the wreck to see what else exists. I then wait until the weed is dying back before I clear some of it in order to gain some photographs and measurements of the artefacts. Luckily there were no strong tides to cope with there, however, this wreck being in very shallow water, it cannot be dived in anything other than easterly winds, as I found to my cost-its like diving in a washing machine. So from time of finding and reporting- was about two years. I then take my theories of the arifacts to others for verification regarding date and nationality. I then write up a report to send to places like radio scilly. This all takes time and money. Then you simply read on here that- “Todd has found another wreck” After which I then often have to deal with unfair flippant remarks and unreasonable put downs from anonymous people. Thankfully, the upside is- is that there are an awful lot of genuinely interested people out there who do appreciate the effort that’s been put in. Thanks for your feedback.