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Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Protection for wreck sunk in 1703
Divers will need licences to investigate further
An English warship thought to have sunk in the Great Storm of 1703 is to be given protected status, Culture Minister David Lammy has announced.

The wreck, lying in Pevensey Bay, off the East Sussex coast, is believed to be that of the 70-gun Resolution.

The ship, now designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, could provide an insight into the maritime and military history of the period.

Local divers found the wreck last year while trying to free a lobster pot.

Its designation under the Act follows a recommendation from English Heritage.

The law means the government can prevent uncontrolled interference in sites identified as being likely to contain the remains of a vessel, or its contents, which are of historical, artistic or archaeological importance.

Shipwrecks and their sites are a vital - and mysterious - part of our heritage
David Lammy, culture minister

The wreck includes a cluster of at least 45 iron guns lying on top of ballast material along with a timber hull structure and other artefacts.

After the wreck was discovered last spring an archaeologist identified the remains as those of a large warship dating between 1600 and 1800.

Initial interpretations concluded it was likely to be the wreck of the Resolution, built in Harwich, Essex, between 1665 and 1667.

The Resolution was the flagship of an expedition against the Barbary Corsairs in 1669, and took part in the unsuccessful attack on the Dutch Smyrna convoy, which resulted in the Third Dutch War.

Map showing location of Pevensey Bay

It sank during the Great Storm on 26 November 1703.

After being blown across the Solent and striking the Owers Banks six or seven times, the crew were able to round Beachy Head.

As the vessel took on water they attempted to beach her in Pevensey Bay but were unsuccessful.

Such in situ preservation of shipwreck material dating from the 17th and 18th centuries is uncommon.

Mr Lammy said: "Shipwrecks and their sites are a vital - and mysterious - part of our heritage."

The site was a "crucial part" of England's seafaring heritage, added Ian Oxley, Head of Maritime Archaeology at English Heritage.

Further investigation of the wreck is expected to be carried out by local divers under licence.

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