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Friday, 6 July, 2001, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Divers barred from Nelson wreck
Bryher and Tresco
Colossus went aground in the Isles of Scilly in 1798
Divers have been banned from exploring wreckage from one of Lord Nelson's ships - years after officials believed its treasures had all been found.

In May, two amateur divers discovered a "stunning" lifesize statue of a warrior at the wreck of HMS Colossus.

It was poking up from the sea bed off the Isles of Scilly.

The discovery was so significant that a second protection order has now been placed on the wreck.

The order by the Minister of State for the Arts, Baroness Blackstone, came into force from Friday.

This new discovery may yield yet more material from Lord Hamilton's collection

Baroness Blackstone, Arts Minister
Colossus went aground in December 1798 off the island of Samson, while bringing home 200 sick and injured seamen from the Battle of the Nile.

The ship was laden with Etruscan vases collected by Lord Hamilton whose wife, Emma, was Lord Nelson's mistress.

The vessel remained on the reef for more than a year, plundered by wreckers.

The remains were first located in 1974 and the ship became one of the first to be listed under the Protection of Wrecks Act.

Shifting sands

Thousands of shards of pottery were brought up from the seabed and pieced together by the British Museum.

It was thought the vessel had no more treasures to offer.

But last year, the sands on the seabed half a mile from the rest of the wreck shifted to reveal timbers and a row of gun turrets.

Hell Bay
Scilly's rocks and reefs were a notorious ships' graveyard
Carvings clearly showed they were from HMS Colossus.

In May this year Carmen Mallon, an amateur diver who lives on the islands, saw a wooden hand poking from the sea bed.

She and fellow diver Todd Stevens discovered it belonged to an intact, five-foot statue of a warrior.

It was by far the biggest wooden carving from an historic wreck found in British waters.

'Spectacular decoration'

Baroness Blackstone said: " It is vital that we urgently protect this newly-discovered part of the wreck to prevent any damage to the site.

"This new discovery, which includes some spectacular carved decoration on the stern of the ship, may yield yet more material from Lord Hamilton's collection."

Martin Dean
Archaeologist Martin Dean is to lead excavations
The warrior carving is expected to be raised by the government's Archaeological Diving Unit in September.

The leader of the unit, Martin Dean, has seen the statue and called in "absolutely stunning".

Richard Larn, former curator of the Charlestown Shipwreck Museum in Cornwall, said: "Once it is out of the water it could disintegrate or warp within a matter of hours.

"That's why they are bringing in professionals. It may have to be raised in a tank to keep it in salt water."

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