Lead anchor stock from Porth Felen, Aberdaron.

This anchor was found in 1974 by two members of a Stockport sub-aqua club. Comparative material ( all from mediteranean sources), reveals that this type of anchor was obsolete before the Roman conquest of Britain. The best date for this unique find in British waters is the latter part of the second or early part of the first century B.C.

Angor plwm o Borth Felen, Aberdaron.

The photographs shows, that there is on one face a row of four squarish lumps, which looked like halves of walnuts before the corrosion-products were removed. Close inspection will show that these lumps are impressions of knucklebones, made in the mould, arranged each a different way up -the ‘Venus ’ throw of the Roman game. This ornament is known on fourteen other stocks, all from the Mediterranean; and two, from datable wrecks, are of about 140-130 B.C. The purpose of this decoration, as in cases where other devices appear, was magical. It took skill, rather than luck, to throw a ‘ Venus ‘, and from the arrangement of the knucklebones here, we can imagine that they were a tacit prayer that the anchor would fall in such a way as to gain a good hold of the bottom.

With this important find, we are brought into the orbit of Graeco-Italic, rather than imperial Roman, connexions by sea with Wales. Whether we have to do with a vessel engaged in the Comish tin-trade, blown so far off course; or with a cruise in search of North Wales copper, if that was known to Mediterranean traders, remains a matter for speculation. One thing, however, seems certain. The stock was found in 15 m. of water only 30 m. offshore; and if investigations by the Gwynedd Sub-Aqua Club failed to find the smallest trace of a wreck on a bottom strewn with storm-pounded boulders, there is here no haven or strand, only the cruel cliffs swept by a severe current: the findspot points unequivocally to disaster.

The stock measures 1.18 m. long and weighs 71.5 kg. It is much below the average size, which is in the region of 2 m. and 200 kg. or more. Thus it must have come from a ship of slight tonnage. Three stocks found aboard a vessel of the earlier part of the second century B.C., excavated by a French team on the reef known as La Chretienne (Dept. Var), weighed 66, 84 and 104 kg.; the hull had measured about 15.5 m. long, on a keel of about 9.4m, and 5,5m beam.

 

 
 

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