Mark Milburn’s Cornish Wreck Ramblings, Part 7: Just an average day at the dive centre


There is no such thing as a typical day at our dive centre. This day started off in a usual way, checking emails, sorting out online sales and drinking tea. Then an email arrives – “Hi, I thought you may be interested, that a piece of the wreck has been washed ashore on the far side of Dollar cove, looks like it could be a piece of rudder perhaps, I have taken photographs if you need them.”

What could I say? Except “Hi, is it still there? There was a piece washed up several years ago too. Any pics would be great”. The photos arrived, it was a big piece of timber, worth a visit to get some better photos and some measurements. I contacted our site archaeologist, David. Then another email arrives “I have a piece of broken grenade shell, that I picked up off the beach several years ago, you are welcome to it if you wanted it, let me know and I’ll dig it out”.

I tried to contact Historic England but it turns out the person I deal with was on site somewhere else, looking at a large timber that had washed ashore. Just as I was about to leave, Nick arrived. I told him we are off out, we loaded some measuring scales and the camera, I then explained what it was about en route.

The sand on most of the beach had gone, it was mainly rock now. It was easy to find the timber, it was quite large and on the shore right near the wreck. We started taking photos. We then searched up and down and Nick found a dead eye, we photographed that too. Time was limited because of the low levels of the sand, the tide came in much faster than usual.

We returned to the shop and as we arrived a car pulled up. The gentlemen came over and introduced himself as the guy who emailed me. He asked what we thought of it. We had to say we were not 17th century rudder experts. All we could say was that is was old, of the right era and it was incomplete. It would have been much bigger, although this was big and rather heavy, made from a single piece of timber. He then opened a Tesco carrier bag and showed me the grenade. This was more than a fragment, it was a grenade with a fragment missing. It’s not everyday that someone comes into the shop with a 17th century hand grenade, although nothing really surprises us nowadays.


I spent the rest of the afternoon on the telephone and emailing Historic England and David, our archaeologist. Trying to work out what we are gong to do next, Historic England are going to arrange a team to come and document the item properly. David and I shall return before that to see what else may be lying around.

Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba at

Mark Milburn

Mark Milburn

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

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