Seaweed, trenches and hand grenades:

Jane Maddocks was a volunteer diver working on the first archaeological excavation in the 1980s. She explains what it was like:

Jumping in off the boat, going down the line and seeing the excavation was the best, most heart-stopping moment. Lying in front of me was a Royal Naval ship from 1744 – and I was lucky enough to help uncover her story.


Like comic-book bombs

The hull timbers were huge, protecting what was inside. My area was full of stuff that was still where it had been left in 1758. I found trays full of hand grenades packed in twelves over a layer of flints used to strike the fuse. They still had fuses sticking up and looked just like bombs in a comic. We used water dredges, an underwater hoover that allowed us to clear away the seabed, especially the seaweed which covered the site at the start of every shift. Seeing new artefacts emerging from the sand was magical.

Back up to the surface

Recovered material like buckets, rigging, shot and rope were brought up on deck then put into fresh water. The smell was exactly like very rotten eggs. The artefacts then went off to conservation so future generations could see what the Royal Navy of 1758 used on warships.

We worked for about an hour before we needed more air. Then it was back on the boat, fill the cylinders, have a cup of tea and back in the water for new discoveries. The team were such fun to work with. It was a real privilege to be there.

In 2018 to 2019, I was back again – but that is a different story.