Evening Talk & Book Launch: ‘A Freezing Horror’, the Wreck of the Halsewell East Indiaman

The Unfortunate Captain Peirce and the Wreck of the HalsewellOne freezing night in January 1786 a shocking and dramatic shipwreck on the Dorset coast stunned the nation. Local author Philip Browne’s talk at Dorset County Museum sheds fresh light on the career of Captain Richard Peirce of the East India Company and the wreck of his ship, the Halsewell.

On Wednesday 2nd December at 7.30pm at the Dorset County Museum, Philip Browne will draw on original research to explore the factors that led to the shipwreck and will examine the impact of the disaster on Captain Peirce’s own family and the response of society to this horrific event. Come along and find out the answers to the questions who was Captain Peirce, and was he to blame for the loss of his ship and the deaths of his own daughters?

Signed copies of Philip Browne’s book ‘The Unfortunate Captain Peirce and the Wreck of the Halsewell’ will be on sale after the talk.

The talk is on Wednesday 2nd December 2015 : 7.00pm for 7.30pm and is FREE, although a small donation of £3 is requested to cover costs. For further information and other forthcoming events contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter


The Swash Channel Wreck by Dave Parham

Carving raised from the Swash Channel Wreck

Carving raised from the Swash Channel Wreck Photo: Michael Spender Poole Museum ©2013

Lying just off the Dorset Coast is a famous 17th century shipwreck known as the Swash Channel wreck.  A Bournemouth University marine archaeology team has been studying the wreck since 2006 but are now so concerned at the rate of deterioration that they have decided to raise and preserve part of the hull.

The 40 metre long 400 year old vessel lies in approximately 7 metres of water next to the Swash Channel in the approaches to Poole Harbour. The wreck includes ornately carved timbers, the earliest still in existence in Britain, but as the sands shift and expose the timbers to the air, they are literally being eaten away by bacteria and tunnelling shipworms. Dave Parham, a Senior Lecturer in Marine Archaeology at Bournemouth University, is leading a team to save as much of the wreck as possible.

The plan is to remove some of the timbers and preserve them, whilst reburying the rest.  It is not possible to cover up the entire wreck as it would create a shipping hazard in a busy channel.  Once preserved, the remains will go on display in Poole Museum.

Dave Parham’s talk will discuss the history of the Swash Channel Wreck project and bring the audience up to date with news on the most recent excavations and research.

This archaeological lecture is on Friday 6th December 2013. The talk is FREE of charge but a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.  Doors open at 7.00pm and the talk will commence at 7.30pm.

For further information please see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.

Related Links:

Ship ahoy!

Archaeology National Trust SW

Being an owner of large parts of the coast, the National Trust ends up with some unusual responsibilities. Flotsam, jetsam and lagan land on our beaches and rocky shores, which is good and bad depending what it is!

In the seas off Studland Bay are many ship wrecks, some known about but others only appear when dredging work on the channel into Poole Harbour is needed or a trawler snags something with its nets. Or large timbers wash up on the beach!

I have had to add another string to my archaeological bow – marine archaeology and I don’t even know how to swim!

Over the last 12 years or so various timbers have appeared on the beach at Studland in Dorset after the winter storms.

The very large piece pictured above had to be cut in two to transport to a holding tank, as it had to be kept wet. Water-logged wood has…

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