Ttwo bronze cannons in situ

Registered in 1995, this was where a royal navy ship belonging to the first half of the XVIIth Century lightened ship by unloading artillery and arms. In fact, no evidence was found of a shipwreck, whereas two swivel gun bases, perfectly aligned on a south-east/ north-west axis, from the shore of Brescou Islet (off Cape Agde) and the mainland, were found about 30 metres apart. 30 metres beyond them 29 matchlock muskets and flintlock blunderbusses were found and, finally, at some distance, metal hoops indicating three barrels.

Altogether, 16 swivel guns were recovered, 7 bronze and 9 wrought iron with iron-shod barrels. These were small, low-calibre, bolt-head swivel guns. This type of armament is typical of the artillery used on galleys. Nothing was found to indicate whether the ship had sunk in spite of having been lightened, or whether it had gone aground on the nearby shore.

Two bronze swivel guns have been restored by Archéolyse International's laboratory. The cast iron parts of these guns have been preserved: the sighting arm and the crutch which supported the trunnions. The French coat of arms, a shield with three fleurs de lys surmounted by a crown decorated with fleurs de lys is on one of the gun chases and, at the top of the chase, Louis XIII's monogram. On the other there is a single fleur de lys on the chase. The muskets and blunderbusses have been remarkably well preserved. The wooden butts are, for the most part, intact and some have graffiti on them. We will have to wait for the rest of the restoration work to be done before obtaining the coats of arms and inscriptions that will perhaps lead to the identification of this ship. Research carried out in the archives has, to this point, proved fruitless.


Muskets before treatment

Nevertheless, this is the first discovery of such a large collection of the artillery and armament of a Royal Navy ship from the first half of the XVIIth Century.

Excavation and text : Marie-Pierre Jezegou, DRASSM
Photos : Marie-Pierre Jezegou and Paul Mardikian, Archéolyse International