Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Measure for Measure

Well, having cried off diving for the previous two days of heavy hard work shifting concrete blocks around - purely coincidental of course, as the rest of the volunteers have noted - I have defied my throat and chest issues today and joined the dive team. The fact that they have had two days of glorious sunshine on the boat until I stepped onto it has hardly helped my reputation as a good luck charm either... Still, despite the soaking it hasn't been enough to dampen my spirits, it's been a joy to get wet at last!

And now that said concrete control control points are in place, and also handily labelled with bright numbered balls and markers attached expertly by swat team Steve & Steve, the measuring began in earnest today, sometimes by overlapping teams - resulting in some great tape measure macrame. The floating numbered baubles were a very welcome addition to finding the control points quickly, especially to me with my two days of 'catching up' to do trying to orientate myself with the site, and seeing my way through the gloom that Mary and I created with our 'hand fanning' investigation of the timbers to the section above the keel, which we think may be framing timbers and will be sketched in due course...

There were also other new features located, tagged and measured by team Peter and Claire, and team Richard and Daniel, including concreted iron objects and hawse pipe. Personally, the team comprising of Mary and I took full measurements for the metal 'knee' at the Eastern end of the keel after my initial orientation, and tied it into the rest of the web of points created so far.

We were also treated to the sight on our return trip to shore of around four or so harbour porpoises - if my dodgy marine life ID is correct - arching gracefully in and out of the water in a way that none of us could ever hope to achieve! It's an important note that although our primary concerns in this project are archaeological, we also have a wealth of natural life living in and around wrecks which give us plenty more to look at and consider.

The afternoon, however, led us away from the John Preston following a very illuminating and enthusing lecture from Colin Martin in collaboration with his wife Paula, regarding his work on the Duart point Wreck. It is  attributed as being  the remains of the 'Swan', a warship under the jurisdiction of Cromwell's forces, wrecked  off the coast of Duart Castle in the 17th Century after a violent storm.

As she is a protected wreck, we were very privileged to have the opportunity to have a look at her for ourselves. Playing hide and seek for the canons, anchor and ballast amongst the kelp - and what I saw was most definitely ballast from the wreck and not just a pile of stones that could have been anywhere, my budding archaeologist senses assured me - was great fun after a visit to Duart Castle itself, a further source of historical sources.

Hannah Lawson

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