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North East divers win award for Northumberland wreck work

Nicola Faulks and her partner Simon Smith, of Tyneside SAC.

Two scuba divers have won a top award after getting closer to solving a 300-year-old maritime mystery, hidden under the sea off the North East coast.

Modern day technology, like 3D imaging, is being used by the British Sub Aqua Club, which has spent decades researching an area known as the 'Gun Rocks Cannon Site' close to the Farne Islands.

Their work has lead to the discovery of what's thought to be an 18th century Dutch vessel. The Gateshead based club has won the coveted British Sub-Aqua Club’s (BSAC) 2015 Wreck Award for their work.

The name of the ship remains a mystery, and so does her story.

Robson Green when he dived with Tyneside SAC at the Gun Rocks project

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time diving at the Gun Rocks Cannon Site with members of Tyneside Sub Aqua Club. I am sure they thoroughly deserve their success having won BSAC’s 2015 Wreck Award.

I’m certain their hard work will continue as they try to solve more of the mysteries of the Gun Rocks wreck.

I wish club members well and hope to have the opportunity to dive with them again at some point in the future as they continue their mission to get to the bottom of this centuries old mystery.”

– Robson Green, who dived the site with Tyneside SAC members while making an episode of his successful TV series Tales from Northumberland
Underwater images and video showing dives on the Gun Rocks project Credit: Supplied by Wessex Archaeology which took the photos on behalf of Historic England (Crown Copyright)

“We simply do not know what the name of the ship was.

And there is nothing left of the vessel which would have been made of wood. Being in relatively shallow water it will have been pounded by the sea over many years and basically disintegrated.

We believe it was a Dutch vessel that was carrying cannons back to Holland for recycling. It would seem likely it was blown off course and floundered on Gun Rocks. There are six cannons at one site, thirteen at another.

There were Swedish and Dutch cannons on board.

The exciting development now, is that at a heritage ordnance conference in September 2015 a cannon expert, on seeing some of the 3D photogrammetry models, tentatively voiced opinion that some of the cannons may be of English origin, which wouldn’t quite tie in with our current theories.

So we are already planning new dives this year and will continue working hard to discover all we can about this important wreck site.”

– Tyneside SAC Club Diving Officer, Nic Faulks