Catching the tide at our baseline monitoring wrecks

On 11th September members of the CHERISH team from the Royal Commission and Aberystwyth University headed to opposite ends of Wales to catch a very low 0.2m tide to record shipwrecks and intertidal archaeology normally covered by the surf.

In far south-west Wales is Albion Sands, Marloes, named after a shipwreck which still lies stranded in the sand. The ALBION was a wooden paddlesteamer built at Bristol in 1831 which did regular runs between Bristol and Cork. On one ill-fated day in April 1837 it struck a rock in Jack Sound, a treacherous stretch of water between the mainland and Skomer Island, and ran ashore at Marloes.

Christopher Jessop and colleagues with the CHERISH team on Albion Sands, in the shadow of the towering crankshaft of the ALBION.
Christopher Jessop and colleagues with the CHERISH team on Albion Sands, in the shadow of the towering crankshaft of the ALBION

Christopher Jessop has researched the ALBION and carefully monitors the wreck after major storms with a group of local volunteers. Patrick and Louise from CHERISH spent a day on the beach surveying and recording the towering crankshaft which still stands on the beach, and parts of the crankshaft bearing frame, air pump piston and other remnants of the steam engine. Christopher and his colleagues will continue to monitor the wreck for any changes following storm events.

Recording fragmentary remains of the ALBION’s steam engine at low tideRecording fragmentary remains of the ALBION’s steam engine at low tide

A 3D photogrammetric model of the air pump piston wedged in rocks at the beach.
A 3D photogrammetric model of the air pump piston wedged in rocks at the beach

On the same day in north Wales, Dan and Toby were on the The Warren beach at Abersoch, on the western end of the Llyn Peninsula. A stretch of intertidal peat on the beach, exposed in storms a few years ago, preserves a scatter of remarkable prehistoric animal footprints including deer and aurochs. Following studies around the Welsh coast it seems these may date to the late Mesolithic around 7000 years ago. The Abersoch footprints are among the farthest north recorded in Wales.

 Close by there is also the wreck of a small ship, thought to be that of the FOSIL, which was beached here in 1889. The wreck was particularly well exposed following storms in 2013 and is being regularly monitored to study the damaging effects of storms during CHERISH.

Documenting change at the wooden wreck thought to be the FOSIL on The Warren beach, Abersoch.
Documenting change at the wooden wreck thought to be the FOSIL on The Warren beach, Abersoch

During aerial drone surveying Dan and Toby had another surprise when a previously unrecorded second wreck emerged at the very lowest tide a few hundred metres further on than the FOSIL. The ‘new’ wreck, which local people remember appearing from time to time, has a fine windlass lying alongside. Even as Dan surveyed in the new wreck, the sea turned and the exposed timbers began to disappear again under the surf.

 A newly-discovered wreck close to the lowest tide line on The Warren beachA newly-discovered wreck close to the lowest tide line on The Warren beach

6.	The fine windlass lying alongside the newly-discovered wreck on The Warren beachThe fine windlass lying alongside the newly-discovered wreck on The Warren beach