The site is in position 50 12.742N 03 44.413W and there is a 300m exclusion zone. (See Protection of wrecks act)
In July 1977 Phil Baker found a sword while diving off Moor Sand – the sword was 3000 years old and Moor Sand became the first prehistoric wreck site to be discovered in Britain. The swords above have since been recoverd by the SWMAG team.
Phil, then BS-AC National Coach for Yorks and Humberside, was an instructor on an adventure holiday being run by the Youth Hostels Association. While diving with Ursula Jurda, a German housewife making her second open water dive, Phil found a complete Bronze Age sword in superb condition. Half an hour later he was diving with John Clark when John picked up a rather worn, slender blade. Despite searching the area further, no other artefacts were found that day. Phil’s sword was of a type made in Northern and Eastern France and had been imported into Britain 3000 years ago. The finds meant that Moor Sand was the first prehistoric wreck site to be discovered in Britain.In October the same year a preliminary survey of the site was carried out by divers from Salcombe and Doncaster under the direction of Keith Muckelroy, the BS-AC Archaeological Officer. During the survey another blade was found by Doncaster diver Stewart Rollinson.
In June and July 1978 a six week on site investigation took place directed by Phil Baker and Keith Muckelroy, and sponsored by the National Maritime and British Museums. The divers worked in 10m wide corridors in depths of around 7m visually searching the reefs and using metal detectors in sandy areas. Three artefacts were recovered that year; two plastaves and another blade. The palstaves are from north-west France, adding to the evidence for the site being a wreck sunk crossing the channel. In 1979 Muckelroy and Baker returned for a four week survey, again sponsored by the NMM and BM. This time they increased the search area and reached what was to become the edge of the Salcombe designated area. However, the survey only recovered one artefact that year, another blade and it was found in the area searched the previous year.
Having not found further artefacts in the extended area searched in 1979 the team were faced with two possibilities: 1) the main wreck was some distance away, or 2) only a small assemblage survived just off Moor Sand; the location of the blade found in 1979 lent weight to the second option; we now know that the first was correct and they were very close to it.
In 1982 a team led by Martin Dean recovered a sword hilt believed to be that of a carps toungue sword in the 1978 survey area. Since them the SWMAG team have located, recorded and recovered more items including swords, rapiers, axes and ingots.
“Salcombe is now one of the most important Bronze Age sites currently being investigated in Britain.”(2009)
Ben Roberts Curator, European Bronze Age at the British Museum
The images below show some ot the gold jewellery and ingots found on the site
In 2004 the SWMAG team found Bronze Age artefacts on the Salcombe Cannon Site. Over the next few years as the team followed the trail of artefacts it became clear it led towards Moor Sand and in 2009 the two sites became a combined project following work that showed the archaeology spanned both. In the September that year Moor Sand was granted a Surface Recovery License following the location of a significant number of tin and copper ingots. What was subsequently recovered was the largest single collection of Bronze Age copper ingots in Britain. The irony is that the ingots were predominantly located on the reef just beyond the 1979 search area; how different the report from the 1979 season might have been but for a few extra metres surveyed. Since 2009 Other items have been found including a sword and some tin ingots.
Some of these artefacts are featured in the “ pages of this website