Thursday, February 05, 2009

Shipwrecks and brooches and cults, oh my!

Huzzah! The HMS Victory has been found! The flagship of the British Royal Navy sank Oct. 4, 1744 in choppy seas. Here's how the Independent puts it:

Laden with four tons of Portuguese gold, the pride of the British navy – and direct predecessor to Admiral Nelson's vessel of the same name – sank with all 1,150 of its crew. Only the shattered remains of its top-mast were found on a Guernsey beach as evidence of its terrible fate.

Until now. Odyssey Marine of Florida found the 100-gun HMS Victory ("the mightiest vessel of the 18th century") and its gold, estimated at 700 million pounds' worth in today's currency. (no wonder it went down. 100 bronze cannons and more than 100,000 gold coins [per the BBC]? That was one hefty ship!) A great deal of controversy surrounds Odyssey's intention to salvage the treasure, as reported here in The Independent.

But I'll see your 265-year-old shipwreck with a Saxon burial in Sussex--and raise you another Saxon grave! So there!

A couple of bright members of the Eastbourne District Metal Detecting Club were doing what metal detecting enthusiasts do when they stumbled across a pair of highly impressive 6th century Saxon graves. Spear, shield, male skeleton and bronze bowl, silver belt buckle, gilded brooches, and female skeleton. The two discoverers, Bob White and Cliff Smith, did NOT ransack the site, but called authorities so that the site could be properly excavated. Yay! Here's the BBC story.

Finally, a 4th century pagan cult mosaic was unearthed about 13 feet under a Catholic Church. 140 square feet of naked, carousing Romans! Read about that one here.

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