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The wreck of the 1682 ship HMS Gloucester found off the Norfolk coast

British media have reported that divers have found the wreck of the 1682 ship HMS Gloucester off the Norfolk coast. Thewreck of HMS Gloucester was located and identified by a team led by two brothers, Julian and Lincoln Barnwell. The successful search for the Royal Navy ship took four years and covered an area covering
Published: June 10, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 00:52
The wreck of the 1682 ship HMS Gloucester found off the Norfolk coast

British media have reported that divers have found the wreck of the 1682 ship HMS Gloucester off the Norfolk coast.

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Thewreck of HMS Gloucester was located and identified by a team led by two brothers, Julian and Lincoln Barnwell. The successful search for the Royal Navy ship took four years and covered an area covering 5,000m.

Historical painting of HMS Gloucester
Historical image showing HMS Gloucester Photo Wikimedi Commons

It is worth emphasising at this point that the discovery of the wreck is undoubtedly a major event in the British Isles. The British consider HMS Gloucester to be one of the most significant wrecks found and describe it as the most important discovery since the Marry Rose, the flagship of King Henry VIII’s war fleet, which was found in 1982.

The circumstances surrounding the sinking of HMS Gloucester

Theroyal warship HMS Gloucester sank in 1682 off the coast of Norfolk in rather curious circumstances. The vessel was travelling by the Duke of York and future King James II Stuart of England and Scotland. A dispute arose between him and the pilot James Ayres over navigation, which ended with the ship running aground.

HMS Gloucester became bogged down about 28 Mm off Great Yarmouth and sank in just one hour. The Duke of York barely escaped with his life because he delayed leaving the ship for too long. However, his behaviour cost the lives of many others who, due to protocol, could not leave the ship before the royal crew. No precise figures are available, but the disaster resulted in the deaths of between 130 and 250 people who were on board.

Barnwell brothers with excavated ship's bell
Barnwell brothers with excavated ship’s bell Photo University of East England

They found and identified the wreck of the ship HMS Gloucester

The Barnwell brothers found the wreck of HMS Gloucester in 2007 with their late father and two friends. However, due to the inability to identify the vessel and the need to protect the wreck, they have only now gone public with the information.

From the description provided by the divers, the wreck is split along the keel and the remains of the hull are buried in the sand.

As we descended to the bottom the first thing I noticed were the large cannons lying on the white sand, it was awe-inspiring and really beautiful. I immediately felt honoured to be there, it was so exciting. We were the only people in the world who knew at that moment where the wreck lay. It was special and I will never forget it Lincoln Barnwell said.

Fished out ship's bell of HMS Gloucester
The fished-out ship’s bell of HMS Gloucester Photo: University of East Anglia

Many artefacts were recovered from the wreck, including clothing and shoes. In turn, a ship’s bell was raised in 2012 , which proved to be a key clue in identifying the wreck as HMS Gloucester. The researchers have planned an exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery in spring 2023. At the event they will present finds from the wreck and the results of their research to date.

The ship HMS Gloucester was built in 1652 for the English Navy and took part in battles during the Anglo-Spanish War of 1654-1660 and the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars.

Photo: University of East Anglia


Without a doubt, Sweden is famous for its magnificent wrecks that rest at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Certainly one of them is the magnificent wreck of the 17th century warship Bodekull, which we visited in 2021. You will read more about it in issue 19 the DIVERS24 quarterly magazine! The digital version of the magazine is available free of charge, while you can purchase the printed version in our online shop.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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