Divers discover wreck of ship sent to help Bonnie Prince Charlie
Researchers have started an underwater excavation project at the site of an 18th Century vessel that foundered off Anglesey and is thought to have been carrying gold and supplies from the King of France.
It is thought the ship dates from the time that the Young Pretender was hiding on the Scottish Islands after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.
Kevin McCormac, a professional diver, was exploring the seabed off Porth Dafarch Beach on Holy Island, when he uncovered a tiny copper disc.
The disc was found more than fifteen years ago and was initially dismissed as a worthless coin. Considered completely unremarkable and valueless, it was left to languish in a drawer.
Years later Mr McCormac’s father, veteran Liverpool-based diver Joe McCormack, was encouraged to have the disc examined by experts at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Microscopic examination showed it is an identical duplicate of the seal on the signet ring worn by Mary Queen of Scots at her execution. That priceless ring is kept at The British Museum.
The fact that this unique seal was recovered from the site of a wreck, together with historical research, suggests it may have be carried on one of several privateer vessels sent by Louis XV of France, to supply or rescue Charles Edward Stewart “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, in the aftermath of his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1745.
Louis XV was the chief sponsor and financier of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion – Bonnie Prince Charlie’s armed attempt to seize the thrones of Scotland and England.
King Louis XV sent a number of ships laden with supplies to support Charlie while he was in hiding. Two named “Le Mars” and “La Bellone” were laden with a huge quantity of gold and weapons.
These two vessels never reached the defeated Scotsman. They were intercepted and damaged in an encounter with the English Navy, after which they limped back to France with their valuable cargoes.
Work is now under way to fully explore the site in a unique project that will see access gained via a flight of scaffolding erected down the rugged cliff face.
Earthcore Ltd and Maritime Resurgence Ltd are Salvors in Possession of the site, having devised a plan to approach the wreck from a scaffolding platform that will be erected down the cliff face, allowing access at all times of the tide and even in adverse weather.