|Kimberly Briscoe and Sarahjayne Clements, Community Archaeologists at the Royal Commission visiting the memorial in Moelfre Churchyard, Anglesey to the lives lost on the passenger ship The Royal Charter.|
Welcome back from the Community Archaeologists, these last few weeks we’ve really hit the ground running after our Christmas break; in this case this meant finally putting all our hard work, planning and organisation for the Shipwrecks Project into action.
The Shipwrecks Project was based on the story of a violent gale, which swept over Britain in 1859, wrecking hundreds of ships along the coasts of England and Wales, culminating in horrific coastal damage and loss of life. The Royal Charter, one of the largest and most famous transatlantic wrecks of the storm, was lost just off the coast of Anglesey. It was responsible for the largest number of lives lost in the storm, so much so that the gale has often been renamed the ‘Royal Charter Gale’. The documentation of the Royal Charter wreck, and studies of items recovered from the wreck, reveal an interesting snapshot of the lives of those on board.
|The memorial to the Royal Charter and the effects Great Gale 1859 at Cwm yr Eglwys, Pembrokeshire.|
|Aberbach beach, Pembrokeshire. The wreck site of the transatlantic cargo ship ‘The Charles Holmes’, lost on the night of the Great Gale 1859.|
The project began on Tuesday 7 January, when Sarahjayne, Deanna and I gave the students of Pembrokeshire College a brief introduction to maritime archaeology and the background of the storm. Asking questions throughout our presentations, the students seemed genuinely engaged with the story of the losses, and local areas that were severely affected by the storm also seemed to resonate strongly with the pupils. Often local shipwrecked vessels are a great starting point for exploring local history within a specific time period. Once you’ve located a wrecked vessel you can understand further the impact of the vessel on the local community, explore the wealth of an area and the variety of occupations and maritime industry in that area.
|The unique Port of Cardigan Shipping Registry for 1850–1855, an example of the fantastic resources available for use at the Pembrokeshire County Archives.|
By Kimberly Briscoe
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