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Date 2 June 2003

Event ID 928718

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Note


This Dutch East Indiaman was wrecked within the South Mouth [name centred HU 687 715], a narrow voe or channel in the Out Skerries, on 13 December 1664 (20 December, new style), after first striking the (offshore) Stoura stack. Wreckage from the Advena (HU67SE 8002) overlies the remains in part.

The ship was then outward bound from Texel to Batavia with a complement of 200 and a rich ('treasure') cargo, taking the exposed northern route to avoid hostile warships in the English Channel. Only three men survived the stranding, being thrown onto the shore from high in the rigging.

Local people attempted salvage (presumably limited) immediately after the loss, and kept many items but surrendered the main treasure chests, which were awarded at court to King Charles II. Local tradition remembered the ship as the 'Carmelan frae Amsterdam'; documents relating to the loss survive in Scottish Court Records and in Amsterdam.

The wreck was discovered in 1971 and was subsequently the subject of a seven seasons of excavation and a further two of survey by R Price, K Muckelroy and other amateur divers of Aston University SAC. This work is highly significant as the basis for a series of observations (Muckelroy 1978, passim.) regarding the methodology of underwater excavation, exemplifying particularly the concepts of environmental site attributes, extracting filters and systems outputs.

Excavation revealed two distinct concentrations of debris across about 500m of seabed, forming an assemblage comparable with other wrecks of this type and date. At least four anchors, iron bars and shot, 119 lead ingots and yellow Dutch bricks were found at the base of the stack. These apparently formed a ballast deposit and indicate the point of initial contact, where the ship tore her bottom out.

Further finds (generally lighter, but including cannon) were found further into the voe, where the ship finally grounded and the rigging collapsed. These included goods intended for private trade and personal use (combs, a shot mould, tobacco boxes and copious fragments of green bottle glass), navigational instruments (dividers, a backstaff of early form, a globe-ring and a pocket sundial), and organic material (plum- and peach-stones, and peppercorns). Five heads of golf clubs were found, and one of the German stoneware flagons was full of mercury.

Although no coherent structural remains were discovered, fragments recovered from what was apparently the residue of the bilges indicate that the ship was planked in oak with a sheathing of pine. Examples were also found of a distinctive Dutch pattern of treenail.

The location cited for this loss falls in shallow water which is open to the SW, SE and S; the published chart not does stipulate the seabed type but the natural excavation matrix is cited as gravel. The dense cover of laminaria kelp was a constant impediment to archaeological operations. The wreck was not considered a closed deposit on account of the recorded presence of four other wrecks in the area: the Racer (HU67SE 8004) of 1888, the Watchful (HU67SE 8005) of 1906, the Nordwind (HU67SE 8003) of 1906, and the Advena (HU67SE 8002) of 1912. A bell and a compass from an unidentified but later wreck were found in 1971.

The artifacts recovered from this wreck are held in Shetland Museum, Lerwick.

(For schematic site plan, see Muckelroy 1978, 173, fig. 5.6 and 1980, 124. For analytical table of system outputs from this wreck, see Muckelroy 1978, 168, tab. 5.4.)

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 2 June 2003.

Sources: W A Forster and K B Higgs 1973; R Price and K Muckelroy 1974; R Price 1975; K Muckelroy 1976; K Muckelroy 1977; R Price and K Muckelroy 1977; K Muckelroy 1978; R Price and K Muckelroy 1979; R Price, K Muckelroy and L Willies 1980; K Muckelroy 1980; C T C Dobbs and R A Price 1991; J Delgado 1998.

HO chart no. 3282 (1980, revised 1991).

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