The site was found in 1978 by divers from Glaslyn and Harlow Sub Aqua club who came across the large stone blocks, cast and built-up iron guns and a Bronze Bell. The divers formed themselves into the Cae Nest Group and together with the Welsh Institute of Maritime Archaeology and History at the University of Wales (Bangor) applied for site designation and a licence to survey. Haverfordwest Museum offered to conserve the finds and the Royal Armouries undertook to excavate, raise and conserve one of the breech-loading wrought iron guns. Finds include a bronze bell cast with the date 1677 and a stack of pewter concreted to one of the main guns. One of these platters is shaped like a cardinal's hat with a halmark stamp of Lyon dated 1700. Coins from 10 countries suggest a date of post 1702 for the wreck. Other finds include navigational dividers, fine cutlery, a dental plate, a seal, remains of pistols and a rapier, and a gunner's rule.
The weight of the marble blocks calculated at 66 tonnes, suggest that the vessel was not large despite all the armament. The origin of the guns and majority of coins suggests that the vessel was a French trader, and was carrying marble from the Italian quarries of Carrera exported via Genoa or Leghorn. There is a strong location tradition that artefacts from the wreck found their way into everyday use within Cors y Gedol Hall. The ship's timbers were incorporated into a building in the hall's grounds. A survivor called Juan Benedictus may also have lived as part of the local community. His death is entered in Llanendwyn Parish Register in 1730. Many of the recovered items from the wreck are now on display at local museums, including Barmouth.
Full site details: Bronze Bell; Tal-y-bont
Learn about other fascinating maritime wrecks around Wales on Coflein, the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), the national collection of information about the historic environment of Wales.
Other useful links:
Maritime Archaeology In Wales
Maritime wrecks - Cadw