Book Review: ‘A Cromwellian Warship Wrecked Off Duart Castle, Mull Scotland, in 1653’ by Robert J. C. Mowat

By Robert J. C. Mowat, published January 2021


In recent years, Armada wrecks, East Indiamen and others of less clear historical context have been investigated by excavation alongside the (putative) Swan (1653) and the Dartmouth (1690) which stranded on opposite sides in the eastern entrance to the Sound of Mull.

The principal credit for this major development in Scottish, maritime and post-medieval archaeology falls to the author of the present book, which will be valued as much for its historical significance as for the exemplary presentation of specific evidence. In reporting the excavation of the Duart Point (1653) wreck, he takes an inclusive and essentially illustrative approach, diverging from the traditional arrangement of an excavation report to integrate historical background, excavation results and scientific evidence for the historian as much as for the archaeologist.

The great strength of this book lies in its description and analysis of specialized artefacts which are as notable for their variety as for their consistently high status.

A final point: this book closes a lengthy project, being published 38 years after the initial discovery. It reflects a ‘traditional’ approach to excavation, combining 13 relatively short ‘seasons’ of work on site with the use of a nearby shore headquarters (a ‘dig house’ in the terminology of an earlier period) and extended intervals to allow the detailed planning of further work, technical analysis of specific artefacts, and their interim publication in advance of this final account …

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Filed under: Location | English Civil War | Irish Sea | Shipwrecks
Subjects include: Archaeology | Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Navies

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