An absolute unit of an anchor has been discovered off the Cornish coast, 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the eerily named British port and holiday attraction, Land's End.
Experts say the anchor dates back to a time between 1600 and 1800. Based on its size and age, some believe that it could be a remnant from the now lost Merchant Royal, an English merchant vessel shipwrecked in 1641.
"I know there are lots of anchors that look just like that one – it’s from a big wooden ship," Mark Milburn, owner of Atlantic Scuba, told i News. But, "It’s an admiralty patterned long shank anchor, it’s the right type for the Merchant Royal."
When the English weren't fighting the Spanish (an apparently popular pastime), they continued to trade with their European neighbors – Mexican gold being an especially desirable commodity in the 17th century. The Merchant Royal (or "El Dorado of the seas"), captained by John Limbrey, was just one of several vessels launched during a period that saw a huge expansion in world trade and, as a result, maritime shipping.
Unfortunately for Limbrey and his crew, the Merchant Royal fell victim to a menace that plagued many shipping vessels – bad weather, vicious seas, and, ultimately, shipwreck.
After years of ferrying precious metal, supplies, troops, and ammunition to and from the New World, the Merchant Royal (unknowingly) set sail for her final voyage from Mexico. The crew was crossing the English Channel when the weather took a turn for the worse and the ship's pumps broke. The Merchant Royal began to take on water and on September 23, 1641, it sunk somewhere off Land's End.
As i News reports, experts suspect this new discovery will entice divers and treasure hunters to go looking for the wreck and the valuables that sunk with it. After all, it is thought that the ship was carrying over £1 billion worth of Mexican gold and silver, not to mention millions in coins and jewels – which, despite a few false starts, none of which has ever been found.
But it is dangerous water and Milburn worries people could be risking their lives to do so.
"Everyone will be after it, won’t they? It was an old wooden ship and the timber gets eaten away and only iron and metal bits will be left," he said.
"All that will be on the seabed is an anchor, cannons and treasure – so long as no one has taken it already."
[H/T: i News]