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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 16:54 GMT
'Fake' Mary Rose sell off halted
Mary Rose
Wreck artefacts are on show at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth.
A plan to pass off a cannonball as being from the Mary Rose shipwreck and then sell it on the internet for 5,000 has been thwarted by police.

Hampshire officers discovered 14 of the 16lb cannonballs under a barbecue after raiding a house in West Sussex.

They were tipped-off by The Tudor Mary Rose Trust and the Receiver of Wreck.

An expert from the Trust said the cannonballs were probably 18th or 19th Century and recovered from the shores of the county's River Hamble.

We are relieved that the shot turned out to be nothing to do with the Mary Rose
John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust

A Hampshire Constabulary spokeswoman said two officers from the force's marine unit visited the house of a middle-aged man on 26 November.

"The man led the officers out into the back garden and showed them the shot under his barbecue, " a spokeswoman explained.

"He said they were given to him by a family friend who said they were from the Mary Rose.

"When the man was away, another member of the family, a man aged 25, decided to sell the cannonball on eBay.

"Both men are co-operating fully with police who are trying to determine whether an offence has been committed."

The Trust said it was alerted about the sale by one of the divers who had worked on the excavation and knew that the Trust has a policy that all artefacts from the excavation are kept in the Mary Rose collection, with many of them on display at the museum in Portsmouth.

The Trust contacted Hampshire Police Marine Unit who worked with eBay to find the man.

Most of Henry VIII's flagship was raised from the Solent in 1982 after 437 years under the sea. The site is one of 55 in the UK that are designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: "We are relieved that the shot turned out to be nothing to do with the Mary Rose but are not pleased that the vendor tried to pass them off as genuine and even used a photograph taken without authority from our website."

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