Underwater archaeologists uncover rudder from the first HMS Invincible

A team of underwater archaeologists from Bournemouth University have uncovered the rudder from the first HMS Invincible.

The HMS Invincible was a 74-gun ship of the line of the French Navy, designed by Pierre Morineau and launched in 1744 in France on the banks of the River Charente.

At the First Battle of Cape Finisterre during the War of the Austrian Succession in 1747, the Invincible escorted a convoy of merchant ships when she was sighted by a British fleet of 16 ships of the line.

To allow the convey to escape, the Invincible engaged six British warships, but after suffering many casualties the French Commander, Saint-Georges struck her colours and surrendered his sword to the Admiral of the Fleet, George Anson of the Royal Navy.

- Advertisement -

In 1757 Invincible began a voyage to Louisbourg (modern day Nova Scotia), but a series of calamitous events led to her wrecking on the Horse Tail Sand sandbank in the East Solent, between Langstone Harbour and the Isle of Wight.

The site of the wreck was rediscovered by a fisherman in 1979 and was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act in 1980.

YouTube video

Archaeologists and divers from Bournemouth University and the Marine Archaeology Sea Trust began excavating the wreck in 2017 but her rudder was never found. It was believed to have parted from the main stern and floated off as the ship ran aground.

Dr Dan Pascoe, an archaeologist at Bournemouth University said: “We have conducted several routine surveys of the seabed, and had previously noted an anomaly in the sand, which I suspected could have been the rudder. Since then, natural erosion of the sand has revealed more of its secrets and our divers have finally been able to confirm where it has been hiding the missing piece of the puzzle.”

The rudder is still in one piece and is over 11 metres from top to bottom. Whilst it appears to be well preserved, archaeologist are now worried that exposure to the elements could cause it to deteriorate, so are now looking for financial investment to recover and conserve on dry land.

Dr Pascoe explained: “In the short term we are going to bury it with sandbags to protect it from further erosion, then longer term our team are looking into whether it can be brought to the surface and preserved safely.”

Bournemouth University

Header Image – HMS Invincible – Drawn by Richard Short and engraved by John Boydell – Public Domain

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is an award winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education and the BCA Medal of Honour.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Baboons in Ancient Egypt were raised in captivity before being mummified

In a new study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, researchers examined a collection of baboon mummies from the ancient Egyptian site of Gabbanat el-Qurud, the so-called Valley of the Monkeys on the west bank of Luxor.

Archaeologists find 22 mummified burials in Peru

A Polish-Peruvian team of archaeologists have uncovered 22 mummified burials in Barranca, Peru.

Oldest prehistoric fortress found in remote Siberia

An international team, led by archaeologists from Freie Universität Berlin has uncovered an ancient prehistoric fortress in a remote region of Siberia known as Amnya.

Top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2023

The field of archaeology has been continuously evolving in 2023, making significant strides in uncovering new historical findings, preserving cultural heritage, and employing innovative technologies to study the past.

War in Ukraine sees destruction of cultural heritage not witnessed since WW2

The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has resulted in a significant loss of human lives and the national and international displacement of many Ukrainian people.

Archaeologists find five Bronze Age axes in the forests of Kociewie

According to an announcement by the Pomeranian Provincial Conservator of Monuments, archaeologists have discovered five Bronze Age axes in Starogard Forest District, located in Kociewie, Poland.

Origins of English Christmas traditions

Christmas embodies a tapestry of ritual traditions and customs shared by many countries and cultures. Some hearken back to ancient times, while others represent more recent innovations.

Mosaic depicting lions found at ancient Prusias ad Hypium

Archaeologists have uncovered a mosaic depicting lions during excavations at ancient Prusias ad Hypium, located in modern-day Konuralp, Turkey.