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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Statue faces winter on seabed
HMS Colossus carvings
HMS Colossus carvings have only just been revealed
Divers excavating a shipwreck off the Isles of Scilly have had to put off an attempt to raise a "stunning" wooden statue from the seabed.

They hoped to bring it to the surface this month but then discovered it was far larger than first realised.

It now appears to be a fragment of the wreck itself, according to the amateur diver who found it.

The government's Archaeological Diving Unit has described it as one of the most important underwater discoveries ever made.

The wreck is a section of HMS Colossus, which went aground off Samson island in 1798, on its way home from the Battle of the Nile.

Special tank

The main body of the wreck was excavated in the 1960s but a large part of the stern went undiscovered until diver Todd Stevens found it last year.

He was diving with a fellow islander, Carmen Mallon, when she noticed a carving of a hand protruding from the sand.

Mr Stevens told the BBC: "I couldn't fathom, at the time, what it was, but it was the arm and the thumb holding something."

Todd Stevens
Amateur diver Todd Stevens found the wreck
It proved to be part of a five-foot wooden statue of a warrior.

It is the largest wooden carving from the period ever found in British waters.

The diving unit had taken a special tank to the islands to lift the warrior, which it described as a stunning find.

But it now appears it is part of a much larger carving - part of the ship itself - and the divers will have to return after winter for a far more difficult lifting operation.

Colossus has been declared a protected wreck, which means divers cannot explore it.

Salvage rights have been granted to Mac Mace, a commercial diver on the islands.

See also:

20 Sep 01 | Scotland
Wartime shipwrecks are surveyed
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