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.
plwm o Borth Felen, Aberdaron.
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.
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.
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