Fishermen stumble upon possible link to treasure ship
- Published: Mar 13, 2019, 4 AM
Fishermen accidentally netted an anchor now believed to possibly be from from the British Merchant Royal, which was purported to have been carrying thousands of pounds of gold and silver bars as well as jewels when it sank off the coast of Great Britain in 1641.
The Daily Telegraph reports the fishing vessel recovered the anchor 20 miles south of of Land's End, Cornwall, England. Experts are attempting to place a date on the anchor to determine if it is from the Merchant Royal or another vessel.
Other British media outlets have reported on the anchor and have raised questions as to where the Merchant Royal's precious cargo came to rest, an issue the Telegraph reported on extensively in 2007. The anchor could also possibly be from another vessel that sank in the same waters.
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In 2007, the Telegraph reported that Odyssey Marine Exploration from Tampa, Florida, had recovered 17 tons of gold and silver coins worth £250 million from a shipwreck off Cornwall.
The Merchant Royal, an English ship known as the “Eldorado of the seas,” sank in bad weather near the Isles of Scilly in 1641 as it was returning to Dartmouth laden with treasure from Mexico. The loss to the British Treasury and the nation was so significant that proceedings of the House of Commons were interrupted for the news to be broken.
The ship carried an incredible treasure: more than 100,000 pounds of gold, about 500,000 pieces of silver, and about 400 Mexican silver coins. Compared to today’s prices, the mentioned 100,000 pounds of gold alone could be worth nearly $2 billion.
The ship was sunk near Land’s End, which is the most westerly point of England. The ship was sailing from the Spanish port of Cadiz to Antwerp, carrying a reward for the soldiers who were fighting there for Spain.
On May 19, 2007, British officials announced their belief that Odyssey Marine's guarded revelation that it had brought home more than 500,000 pieces of gold and silver from an undisclosed location could only mean that the wreck of Merchant Royal had been discovered.
“Odyssey Marine Exploration revealed only that the haul — codenamed Black Swan and containing 500,000 silver coins, hundreds of gold coins, worked gold and other artifacts — was discovered beyond any nation's territorial waters and in an area where many ships had gone down,” according to a Telegraph report.
A U.S. federal court had granted Odyssey Marine in late 2006 exclusive salvage rights to the wreck site.
That salvaged wreck was later believed to be the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a lost Spanish treasure ship, and Spain ultimately took possession in 2012 of the ship’s cargo recovered by Odyssey Marine.
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