No Viking Ship

Corinna Marion Davis’s Short History of Northam (1967) retells the story of Hubba’s defeat at the hands of Earl Odun’s Saxons, adding ‘for generations people feared to pass Bloody Corner at night, probably the relic of an ancient superstition. The remains of a Viking ship were discovered at Westward Ho!’

If such a ship had been found, it would have been the first – and only – such a find in Britain. That honour appears now to go to a ship located beneath a pub car park, as reported in 2007. Ship and boat burials are of a different kind, I suppose.

However, the appearance of the wreck of a wooden vessel has been recorded periodically since the nineteenth century, above the shifting sands off Westward Ho! In the 1940s this  was called ‘the Viking ship’ or ‘the Spanish galleon’ by local people. But if we are able to believe an expert in the person of a Historic England marine archæologist, this is most likely to be the remains of the Sally, carrying port to Bristol from Oporto and wrecked off Northam Burrows in 1769.


When it appeared last year, a tourist on holiday reported that this was still ‘a Viking ship’ for many local people. And who knows? Perhaps the very ship that ……

A detailed description of the wreck is available, with dendrochronology linking it to the second half of the 18th century.


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