On Tuesday 1 March, Historic Environment Division was contacted by members of the public who reported the remains of a shipwreck which had been revealed at the bottom of the early 19th century slipway in Portrush Harbour after recent storms which have removed a large amount of sand from the area.
HED archaeologists visited the site on 2 March and undertook a survey of the vessel remains. While the upper part of the boat’s ribs had been sawn off, most likely soon after it was abandoned, there was enough of the lower part of the vessel to indicate that it was clinker built (a method of boat building where the edges of hull planks overlap each other).
It appears to be a 11m (36 foot) long double-ended 'Drontheim' vessel typically used by North Coast fishermen in the 1800s and may have been constructed by local boat builders. Based on some of the pottery which was recovered from within the double walls of the vessel it was abandoned at the bottom of the slipway in Portrush harbour in the early to mid-19th century and has been buried under the sands since then.
The boat remains will be added to the Historic Environment Record of Northern Ireland’s Sites and Monuments Record as an archaeological site of regional importance. This will ensure that its location is protected from any harbour development or dredging works which would impact on the remains.
As an identified archaeological site it is illegal to archaeologically investigate, or metal detect, this site in absence of an archaeological licence issued by the Department for Communities.
The Department has no plans to undertake any further invasive investigations of this vessel and the best method of preserving this shipwreck for future generations will be to leave it in-situ and let the sand once again naturally cover it and keep it protected.
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