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New expedition for ‘Indiana Jones of Deep’

Mensun Bound

By Reg Little

MENSUN Bound, the Oxford archaeologist dubbed the ‘Indiana Jones of the Deep’, is gunning for the Tower of London on his latest expedition.

The Oxford researcher is returning to investigate an Elizabethan ship that sank off the Channel Islands, which has given up an array of treasures including muskets, swords and body armour from the age of Drake. But now he is aiming to deliver one of the great cannons from the wreck to the Tower of London later this year, along with other finds and artefacts.

The ship sank off the coast of Alderney in 1592 and is considered to be the most important Tudor find since the Mary Rose. It was carrying munitions and dispatches from Elizabeth I’s greatest minister, Lord Burghley, to an English army in France.

Many of the finds from the wreck are on display at the museum in Alderney. But one of the great cannons and other pieces are to go on temporary exhibition in the Tower of London, once England’s greatest arsenal and manufacturer of military equipment.

The Alderney guns are all cast iron, smooth-bore muzzle loaders of identical calibre and represent a complete co-ordinated weapons system.

According to Mr Bound, of St Peter’s College, Oxford, the Alderney guns, along with those from the Mary Rose, represent the two most important naval gun collections in the world.

He said: “Between the Mary Rose, that sank in 1545, and the Alderney ship, there were only 47 years, but in that time there was a revolution in military science. ”

Mr Bound, who lives in Horspath, said: “This was a ship that was supplying an English army fighting in France to prevent a second Armada-style invasion by Spain.”

He said there are now plans to replicate the guns at a foundry in Scotland and then carry out a series of tests at a live-firing range to establish their ballistic characteristics and destructive capability.

The Governor of the Tower, Major General Keith Cima, said: “Because this ship was on Queen’s business it is likely that the heavy ordnance she carried, not to mention the small arms and bladed weapons, were issued from here by us, so it will be good to get them back – even if it is just for a while.”

Sir Norman Browse, the President of Alderney and the chairman of the Alderney Maritime Trust that oversees the project, said: “This is not going to be an easy job. The wreck is sitting in soft sand in 30m of water in what we call the Swinge, possibly the most notorious stretch of water in the entire Channel.”

Mr Bound established himself in the 1980s as the world’s best known underwater archaeologist after discovering the wreck of a Greek trader from 600BC off the Italian coast.

Since then he has brought up eagle insignia and guns from the German pocket battleship the Graf Spee and raised a cannon from Lord Nelson’s ship, The Agamemnon.

Source: Banbury Cake

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