Never two without three. Even when it is a difficult mission of underwater archaeology. French archaeologists were looking for last summer two of the biggest ships of the Sixteenth century, The String and The Regent , off the coast of Brest. They have discovered a third wreck, which has escaped the multiple campaigns of excavations undertaken up to now.
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“We have perhaps found even better than The String and The Regent . For the moment, we are not yet capable of appreciate it. Hope that in 2019, we reveal it,” enthused Michel The Hour, during a press conference this Friday. He is the director of the département des recherches archéologiques subaquatiques et sous-marines French (Drassm), who leads the excavations in partnership with the region of Brittany.
String , the largest ship of the fleet of brittany Anne of Brittany, sank in 1512 in the off Brest. The tradition says that the admiral gave a reception when The Regent , flagship of the british navy, was sighted on the horizon. He went to his meeting, leads to his guests with him. The fight is bloody: more than 2000 dead on both sides. And will be one of the last acts of glory of the Britain independent, before becoming part of france by the marriage of Anne to the king of France, Louis XII.
A commercial vessel of the Fourteenth or Fifteenth century
If the two ships could not be found during the campaign, launched in the summer of 2018, it is on this occasion that the third wood boat was found. Briefly noticed in 1975, forgotten since, she would be much older than The String and The Regent . Michel The Hour think having to deal with “a commercial vessel that may have sunk between the Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries”.
“More than 30 meters long and 20 meters wide, clinker-built (when the hull is made of planks of wood arranged one over the other like slates on a roof, editor’s NOTE). And unarmed,” he continued. The search area has been named “South Kitty 1” in reference to the fortifications and the lighthouse of the same name at the entrance of the goulet de Brest.
A pottery after the boat has been recovered, dating, a priori, between the Fourteenth and the Sixteenth centuries”, says the researcher. But until now, none of the european experts sent to help were able to determine its precise origin. Is it a geographical area to be “extremely limited” production, which explains why it does not recognize it? Is it a play later dropped by chance in the wreckage? The mystery remains.
A new campaign by 2019
The researchers are faced with two difficulties: the depth where the wreck, which is between 46 and 52 m depending on the tides, and the exceptional strength of the currents. In June 2019, two projects are planned. “On the one hand, the continuation of the research of The String and Regent . On the other, the analysis and the expertise of the third wreck, of which we shall attempt to determine the chronology”, explains Michel The Hour. The campaign is expected to last three to four weeks.
On The String and The Regent , this will not be an easy matter. “The two ships are surely beyond 20 metres in depth”. And they could be buried under meters of sediment, only reappearing at the surface only at the discretion of the movements and sea movements of sand, which are very important in the sector.
“But we will benefit from the new equipment even more performing”, reassures Michael The Hour. “We have given ourselves the means to find in three years,” he concludes with conviction.