Connect with us
background

Blogs

Mark Milburn’s Cornish Wreck Ramblings, Part 13: Dollar Cove, just what is the ‘truth’?

Published

on

Reprising our popular series of Cornish Wreck Ramblings by Mark Milburn…

Part 13: Dollar Cove, just what is the ‘truth’?

For many years treasure hunters have been searching for the fabled “Dollar Cove” wreck. Dollar Cove’s actual name is Jangye Ryn; it got the name “Dollar Cove” from the silver pillar dollars, pieces of eight, that used to regularly wash ashore. Most stories online state that coins washed up from the 17thC wreck are dated up to around 1775, so late 18thC. The San Salvador is quite often listed as being the dollar wreck, it was a hundred years too early. Although it was reportedly wrecked near Gunwalloe Church Cove, the wrong side of St Winwalloe Church to be the Dollar wreck.

Underwater artefacts

Within the church records of St Winwalloe, there is an entry from 1787, it states that a Portuguese wreck occurred with several bodies washed ashore. There are no records of this wreck anywhere, which is no surprise. There are many wrecks along that piece of coast without any records.

The current suspect, is the Rio Nova, it sank in 1802, near Penzance. The whole of Mounts Bay was classed as close to Penzance, back in those days. The Rio Nova was carrying 19,000 silver coins, 12,500 of which were recovered at the time. Many coins have washed up over the years, on one day in the late 19th century, 484 coins were said to have washed up one night. The main problem with the Rio Nova being the dollar wreck, is that divers said they found the Rio Nova near Penzance many years ago.

A lone 18th Century Cannon, possibly from the Dollar Cove Wreck

Some other sources of information state:

A Spanish ship struck the cliffs midway between Gunwalloe Church Cove and the fishing cove, half a mile westward. She broached, end to end, and spilled her cargo of pieces of silver. In 1845 a limited company tried to recover the cargo by damming the mouth of the gully with the intention of pumping it dry at low water. However, their attempts were thwarted by a southwest gale which swept the dam away. (2)(3)(4)

The distance between Church Cove and Fishing Cove is a couple of miles, the gully they dammed was believed to be the one on the headland, between Church Cove and Dollar Cove.

Another attempt was made in 1847 when a gang of miners were hired to cut a passage down and steps down the cliff and sink a shaft 3 metres in diameter and 25 feet deep in the rocks. The miners then drove 40 feet under the gully, but no coins appeared; but the sea did and they just escaped with their lives. (2)(3)(4)

Some of their efforts are still visible around the headland, the main one being a cutting on the far most northern corner.

A 2006 attempt to locate the treasure

Thirty years later, a Mr Boyd, with engineers and divers, attempted to pump out and sieve the contents of the 1847 shaft. No dollars were found so they decided to blow up the shaft and sieve it but to no avail. (3)(4)

In 1877 two bankers from Helston sold 200 shares at £3 each to finance another attempt. The circular mentioned several ships rather than one and the promoter John Toy had occasionally picked up dollars around the cove. He had divers working within a caisson, but nothing was found during the first season. However, the following year an unspecified quantity of coin was recovered, but it was insufficient to repay the shareholders and the company went into liquidation. (3)(4)

There are several ships in the area, this story seems to have been echoed many years later, on another wreck in Cornwall.

In June 1890 another attempt was made by the Liverpool salvage steamer ZEPHYR, but it came to nothing. The last attempt was made by a London businessman, who hired a suction dredger and shifted thousands of tons of sand, but no coins were found.

Since the 1890 attempt, many people have looked, including the legendary Roland Morris. He implied that he may have known where it was, after an argument with the National Trust about ‘rights to wreck’, he left. The NT told Roland to tell them where it was, he just laughed and told them he never would,

The last I can remember was in 2007, when a business man from Chippenham, hired a boat with some local divers including myself, to try and excavate the site. We visited twice in 2007 and recovered hundreds of artefacts but no coins. The first visit found the inlet, which was dammed in 1845, to be completely void of sand, nothing was found apart from some steel beams and a sounding lead. So either all the coins had all been removed, or they were never there in the first place. He is still looking.

Artefacts recovered during a 2006 attempt

Notes:

(2) Richard Larn 1987 A Diver Guide, Dive South Cornwall – 2nd Edition Page(s)116-17
(3) by Richard Larn 1996 A Diver Guide, Dive South Cornwall – 3rd Edition Page(s)166-69
(4) R. Larn 1983 The Diver Guide to South Cornwall – 1st Edition Page(s)134-35


Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba at www.atlanticscuba.co.uk

Mark Milburn is the owner of Atlantic Scuba in Falmouth, Cornwall, England, and is an SDI/TDI/NAS/RYA Instructor and a Commercial Boat Skipper. Although often referred to as a maritime archaeologist, he prefers to call himself a wreck hunter. Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba by visiting www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Louis Hagger, second place winner of the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition (Watch Video)

Published

on

In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-large, chats to Louis Hagger, second place winner of the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition.The See you at the Sea Festival was an online film festival created by young people, for young people.

Louis’ film – Uncovering Cornwall’s Little Known Oceans – can be seen here:

Third in a series of six videos about the competition. Watch the first video HERE with Jenn Sandiford – Youth Engagement Officer with the Your Shore Beach Rangers Project and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust – to find out more about the Competition. Each day this week we will be sharing one video in which Jeff talks with the young contestants about their films and what inspired them.


For more information please visit:

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Chloe Hurst, overall winner of the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition (Watch Video)

Published

on

In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-large, chats to Chloe Hurst, winner of the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition.The See you at the Sea Festival was an online film festival created by young people, for young people.

Chloe’s film – Waves of Change – can be seen here:

Second in a series of six videos about the competition. Watch the first video HERE with Jenn Sandiford – Youth Engagement Officer with the Your Shore Beach Rangers Project and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust – to find out more about the Competition. Each day this week we will be sharing one video in which Jeff talks with the young contestants about their films and what inspired them.


For more information please visit:

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

More Less

Instagram Feed

Facebook Feed

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Popular