6 Fascinating Finds from the London Wreck, 1665

The Historic England Blog

Three hundred and fifty years ago, a second rate 72-gun warship known as the London spectacularly blew up after a gun powder explosion just off Southend-on-Sea in Essex. It is considered one of England’s most important 17th century shipwrecks. Historic England, Cotswold Archaeology and licensed divers have been excavating the wreck, bringing up more than 150 artefacts before they are lost forever to time, in the Thames Estuary. These finds create a unique snapshot of life on board this warship in 1665.

1. Beeswax Candles

The discovery of candles in the wreck is extremely rare due to their fragility. On ships light is crucial to illuminate the lower decks and to signal. These fragile candles are made of beeswax, as was established by Fourier Transformation Infrared Spectroscopy. The layers from repeatedly dipping the wick into the molten wax can be clearly seen, as can the wick itself.

Candle fragment, showing fibrous wick in the centre Candle fragment, showing…

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