Sunday, August 02, 2015

HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

One of Britain’s greatest maritime mysteries has finally been solved.

More than two and a half centuries on, archaeologists have now worked out what caused one of the Royal Navy’s worst disasters – the sinking of the mid 18th century British fleet’s flagship, the Victory. The vessel sank in the English Channel in early October 1744 some 50 miles south-east of Plymouth – and all 1,100 men on-board perished.

It was the greatest single naval disaster ever sustained by Britain in the English Channel.

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New research on the causes of the Viking Age

The Viking hit-and-run raids on monastic communities such as Lindisfarne and Iona were the most infamous result of burgeoning Scandinavian maritime prowess in the closing years of the Eighth Century. 

The Vale of York Cup - a Christian vessel from northern mainland Europe that was  probably held by Scandinavians for some time after its capture, before finishing  its life as the receptacle for a large silver hoard buried in Yorkshire  [Credit : York Museums Trust] 

These skirmishes led to more expansive military campaigns, settlement, and ultimately conquest of large swathes of the British Isles. But Dr Steve Ashby, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, wanted to explore the social justifications for this spike in aggressive activity. 

Previous research has considered environmental, demographic, technological and political drivers, as well as the palpable lure of silver and slave and why these forms of wealth became important at this stage. 

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