Page last updated at 00:05 GMT, Sunday, 7 September 2008 01:05 UK

Tribute to shipwreck brig's crew

Bob Pirie (right) and members of the project team with the figurehead
The figurehead marked the graves of shipwrecked sailors

The men who lost their lives when a boat from Angus went down off the coast of Cornwall 166 years ago have been remembered during a ceremony.

Only one person survived and seven, possibly eight, died when the Caledonia of Arbroath crashed into rocks in 1842.

The service in Morwenstow also celebrated the restoration of the brig's figurehead - a woman in Scots dress, with a shield and claymore.

It marked the sailors' graves in the village before being taken for repair.

The 200-ton Caledonia had been travelling from Odessa in the Black Sea, via Falmouth, to Gloucester with a cargo of wheat when she was driven onto rocks beneath Morwenstow's cliffs.

The famous Vicar, Reverend Robert Hawker, was determined to give the crew a Christian burial and they now lie in the churchyard with the bodies of up to 40 other shipwrecked sailors.

A real piece of that actual event has been saved, hopefully forever
Bob Pirie
Caledonia project team
For generations the Caledonia figurehead marked the graves until severe internal damage was discovered in 2004.

She has now been repaired and will be placed in Morwenstow Parish Church to protect her from the elements. A replica will be put in the graveyard.

Local people, officials from Angus, and even the Canadian descendents of one of the men who perished, took part in the memorial.

A brief act of remembrance was held on the cliff-top above where the brig foundered before a piper accompanied them on their walk to the church.

A service was then be held where hymns and readings relating to the tragedy and the figurehead were read.

Bob Pirie, a member of the Caledonia project team at Morwenstow, said: "It [the figurehead] has always been a part of this community - people have known it as children, it was always there and they thought there was a great gap when it wasn't there.

"There is the Scottish connection - it's not just a Cornish thing, it's not just our community - and maybe it's a link with Scotland that has been lost in a way, so it's a connection I decided to rekindle.

"I hope that this will be a lasting link, a real piece of that actual event has been saved, hopefully forever."


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