HMS Colossus

Wreck of the Colossus
Colossus by Austin Johnson

When Colossus was built by way of plans taken from a captured French prize of a then well known fast and effective French 74 gun battleship called the Courageux. This was a deliberate act by the Admiralty as the Courageux was a ship with an impressive and formidable reputation. British shipbuilders, however, improved on the French design. They also replaced the 24lb upper deck guns she carried with smaller lighter 18lb weapons on the Colossus; a similar act occurred with the quarter deck guns; this all went to make the Colossus the much faster and more impressive sailor described in the references presented below. Her keel was laid in 1781 by a Quaker shipbuilder named William Cleverly and Launched in 1787, the design of the Colossus set a new precedent for the British shipbuilder of 3rd rate ships of the line from then on.
The inshore squadron off Cadiz
HMS Colossus soon earned a fine reputation as one of the best and fleetest warships in the British Navy. During her short life of just 11 years service, apart from taking part in major naval engagements, Colossus covered other duties. Occasionally she served as a convoy escort; as indeed she did during two huge but ill fated West Indies expedition fleets of 1795. However, her main job was on station with what was known at the time as:- the Blockading inshore squadron”; a duty Colossus performed well off Toulon, Malta and Cadiz. The Naval chronicle states that- “Only the fastest ships in the fleet are chosen for such duty.”

In 1793, due to her reputation for being swift, Colossus was rushed by Admiral Lord Hood to Cagliari for reinforcements to aid in the then ensuing siege of Toulon. Hood wrote of her quick return: “His Majesty’s ship Colossus returned to me today bringing with her 350 good troops”  After numerous successes like these, the Times newspaper later wrote: “Colossus was one of the finest 74’s in the service, and a prime sailor” 

Colossus alongside by Austin Johnson

During her time Colossus had no less than seven Captains, three of which entertained Admirals on board- Admiral Pole; Admiral Christian; and if only briefly-the now famous Admiral Cornwallis. It is interesting to note that Admirals chose the ships in which they served; often opting for the biggest, grandest, or more often as not, the fastest ships in the service.

Even in battle Colossus was often chosen to take the lead. After the Battle off the French Island of Groix, in 1795, Admiral Lord Bridport stated: “I made the signal for four of the best sailing ships to chase down  the French; Sans Parell; Orion; Russell; and Colossus”. When they caught up with the fleeing enemy fleet the ensuing battle, which lasted for over three hours, took place within easy range of many enemy shore batteries. During the lengthy engagement, high up on Colossus’ mainmast, a Scottish piper played heartily on his bagpipes until the French struck their colours in defeat.

Two years later in 1797, while back on blockade duty off Cadiz, the then Captain of Colossus, George Murray, was singled out for praise by a Spanish Admiral who stated that:“ Colossus had kept up so unremitting a watch” that under a flag of truce he invited Murray to a bull fight. Even though the Spaniard offered up his own nephew as insurance, Murray “thought it proper to decline the invitation.”  In the squadron at this time Murray in Colossus was serving directly alongside Nelson in Theseus who wrote in candour: “We are looking at the ladies walking the walls and Mall of Cadiz and know of the ridicule they make of their sea officers”

A little later Colossus and three other warships were sent by the Admiralty to bolster the main fleet at sea; which was about to see action in a major Battle off Cape St Vincent. The Mediterranean Fleets overall Commander, Sir John Jervis, wrote to his superiors of his gratitude:- “Thank you for sending so good a batch, they are a valuable addition to my already excellent stock”  Again, when battle commenced, Colossus was one of the first ships sent into the fray; and bearing the brunt of the first broadsides in front of the Spanish guns; some of her rigging was immediately shot away and severely damaged. Consequently she took no further part in the engagement.

After repairing her rigging at Lisbon Colossus was sent back on station off Cadiz; until in 1798 Nelson requested all assistance to defeat the French fleet which was believed to have entered the Mediterranean. The Battle of the Nile was about to commence. Overall Commander, Sir John Jervis, replied to Nelsons request: “The Colossus is now most powerfully manned and Murray is to good a fellow to be left when so much is needed to be done.” Although the ship did not actually take part in the action at Aboukir Bay, as the British conquering battle damaged fleet limped back to the Great Bay of Naples to repair, Colossus chased down and successfully captured one of 3 French warships that had escaped from the engagement.

Whilst the rest of the fleet was repairing at Naples, Colossus went straight back to the Inshore Squadron; this time off Malta until reinforcements came to retake the Island into British control. Colossus did not return to the repairing fleet at Naples until months later.

By the end of September 1798, with the other ships almost ready again for sea Colossus, via Gibralta, rejoined the fleet at Naples. “Every assistance has been given to the Vanguard, the Culloden; and Alexander so that these ships will be fit again to sea in a few days. Yesterday His Majesty’s ship Colossus, Captain Murray, with four victuallers from Gibraltar, came to anchor in this port”-( Naples) It was at this moment Captain Murray gave up his spare Bower anchor (and three of his ships guns) to Nelson in the Vanguard; this simple gift of an anchor between friends helped to seal the fate of Colossus later at Scilly.

Within weeks the city of Naples needed to be evacuated and Colossus was chosen, by Nelson himself, to take a precious and extremely valuable collection of Greek antiquities back to England. This was a personal favour to British ambassador, and friend of Nelson, Sir William Hamilton. His choice of ship, probably due to her swift reputation, was deliberate. The choice was also not taken lightly, as any ship given this task was about to brave the storms of a fast approaching winter; not an ideal time to be out in the Atlantic Ocean.
On her way home to England Colossus stopped of at Algiers where the Dey, in light of recent British victories at sea, and in showing simple admiration towards one of His Majesty’s ships of War, presented Captain Murray with a golden Sabre. Colossus then set sail for Lisbon where she was to take on board the body of Lord Shuldham. Also in the River Tagus at this time, a convoy of transports were waiting to sail home under the protection of Colossus and other ships of war. The convoy, most of which was:- “bound for Ireland and other northern ports” then set off for England. Colossus along with eight other smaller vessels then parted company with the main convoy somewhere out in the entrance of the English Channel as planned.

Southard Wells

On the 7th December 1798 Colossus entered the Isles of Scilly to seek refuge from a north westerly gale. She came to anchor in St Mary’s Roads with a view to ride out the storm before setting off on the last leg of her journey. Unfortunately, three days later on the 10th of December, the wind veered around to the south east. As it grew ever stronger one of the ships main Bower anchors broke and, in the teeth of the gale, Colossus dragged on the one remaining anchor. Without a spare Bower anchor to throw in, having given it to Nelson at Naples, nothing Murray did would arrest the ships progress towards the rocks. Eventually Colossus was wrecked on the Southard Wells reef off the foot of Samson Island.

A Colossus vase washed ashore at Scilly and now in the British Museum
The Loss of a Precious Cargo
Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador to the court of the two Sicily’s 1764-1800, was a noted amateur scholar and collector of antiquities. In 1772 Hamilton completed his first collection of classical and archaic Greek vases and these were acquired by the then recently formed British Museum in London. This collection formed the nucleus of what is still the most significant collection of its kind in the world.

"Emma's attitudes"

In 1791 Sir William married his second wife Emma and by 1796 he had assembled his second collection of vases: “finer than the first” in his own opinion. His wife, Lady Emma Hamilton, using many of this second collection of vases as props, regularly danced around them in what became known as Emma’s attitudes; this is where the game of charades we know and love today originated.

Emma Hamilton

In 1798, with Naples under threat from the advancing armies of Napoleon, Sir William and Lady Hamilton fled the city. Each individual vase in the collection was wrapped in putty and carefully packed into large wooden crates. Eight of these crates, containing in the region of 1200 vases in total, were loaded aboard the warship Colossus for transportation to England; the rest travelled in a convoy in a smaller transport vessel. Unfortunately, Colossus was wrecked at Scilly taking half of the vase collection to the bottom of the sea.
Guns poking from their respective gun ports down on the wreck site.

Diving and salvage
In 1975 a team of divers located part of the wreck and excavated countless artefacts from site. 30,000 thousand shards of the Greek pottery dating from the 4th and 7th century BC were also raised. These fragments went to the British Museum for study and reconstruction- with the ultimate aim of re-assembling entire vases; all other artefacts raised were, however, sold off to private collectors. Successive salvage teams worked the wreck into the late 1980’s until very little was left to find on the seabed; again this all went into the hands of private collectors.

My display in the isles of Scilly Museum

In May 1999 local diver Todd Stevens, while diving half a mile away from the original excavation and known wreck site, located the largest part of this wreck yet found on the seabed. This site proved to be half the wreck from main mast to stern post; it even had its original guns still sticking through their original wooden gun ports. Although buried in deep sand the site, a mere 14 meters below the surface, was also found to be rich in artefacts. The collection now on display in the Isles of Scilly Museum, which provides many insights into the workings of an 18th century warship, was raised by, and is the property of, the aforementioned diver. This, however, was not the end of the story.

Image showing where the Colossus carving (mentioned below) was positioned on the ship.

In May 2001 Scillonian diver Carmen Stevens (Todd’s wife) made an astonishing discovery on this new site; and uncovering it from beneath the sandy seabed, together the pair revealed an ornate wooden carving of a neo classical warrior. As a result the wreck site received an emergency Government protection order by July that year. Eventually archaeologists and a local salvage company fully excavated out the find. In 2002 the full size of the statue, at over 4 meters high, was realised. Although incomplete this carving, which once adorned the stern port quarter gallery of the ship and surrounded a curving window of Captain Murray’s great cabin, was found to be in an excellent state of preservation. Even traces of its original colouring of dark blue and gold gilt were also still present. Prior to public display, an artefact of this nature must receive extensive conservation treatment and this is performed by the Mary Rose Trust in the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth. The carving is now on display on Tresco Island.  Todd Stevens.

The Colossus carving emerges after 200 years on the sea floor.

To know more visit-

After nearly 10 years conservation at the Mary Rose Trust.

Latest news on this wreck.... We finally think we have found this ships missing anchor.
Measuring it after uncovering it from its sandy tomb

Colossus lost anchor?

There have been two recorded attempts to find the lost sheet anchor from the Colossus disaster in 1798. The first was self funded by salvor Roland Morris; the second, by CISMAS who, were awarded £25,000 of funding. It is easy to see how they were unsuccessful as both these teams searched the sea bed to the south east of the wreck site. This seemed perfectly logical, as when the ship was lost on the 10th December 1798, it was as result of a gale blowing east south east.   Everyone, including ourselves, also believed that this sheet anchor may well have been salvaged just after the wreck. This was because it was standard practice for Navy vessels to deploy their anchors with a 'nun' buoy. This nun buoy was attached to the crown of the anchor to aid its retrieval when being weighed or salvaged after loss. As a consequence of this, Captain George Murray, believed his ships lost anchors would all be found when he wrote:- “I fear that few stores will be saved from the Colossus except her anchors and cables”.  There are no records yet found that prove this was actually the case-especially as it does not account for the bad weather that continued long after the wreck. As a result, a large niggle about this last piece in the Colossus jig saw puzzle continued to remain unsolved. Where did Murray anchor his ship? To my knowledge, only one piece of evidence exists- a statement made at his court martial: 'in eleven fathoms'

Note: Before the 19th century ships carried 'bower' anchors on their port sides and a larger 'sheet' anchor to starboard. The sheet anchor was also referred to as the 'best bower' anchor. Its true term though, being the sheet anchor and it was generally used in emergencies. Royal naval anchors of this period were of a certain distinctive shape and style called- Angle Crown. Those on Colossus were recorded as being 18ft-1” long and weighed about 3&1/2 tons each. This information can be found in 'The Established Sizes and Weights of Anchors for the Royal Navy, c.1763 [1]', where its states that for a 74 gun ship the sheet or best bower anchor should be 18 feet 1 inch long.

It is an historical fact from the court martial of Captain Murray that he had deployed his “best bower anchor” but unbeknown to anyone aboard, a rotten cable had been tied to it. This cable parted and the sheet anchor was lost. Murray is recorded to have given his spare bower anchor to Captain Horatio Nelson, so murray did not have a sufficient replacement anchor to deploy.

Despite all the previous worthy efforts by other dive teams to put this story to bed, ie: where is the sheet anchor now? Robin Burrows and myself took up the challenge, knowing that our efforts may end in failure too. There was no guarantee that the anchor still remained on the seabed. However, we were already in the process of surveying St Mary’s Roads and the Colossus anchor was just one of our main targets. After giving the story some thought and knowing that searches to the south east of the wreck had been well performed by others, and using local knowledge of weather and tides in that area, this encouraged us to rethink where the anchor could be. Yes, the Colossus was lost during a east south easterly gale, but had anyone considered the fact that she had rode at anchor in safety for 3 days previous to the disaster? To us, this fact was crucial as we had come to believe that Colossus may not have been anchored to the south east ‘in 11 fathoms’ as everyone had previously thought. Imagine Captain Murray bringing his ship into Scilly, with a local pilot that we know was recorded to have been on board, he being employed to aid in the ship coming to a place to rest in relative safety and out of the wind and weather as possible. On this day, 7th December, the wind was blowing from the south east, so might the local pilot naturally have placed the Colossus under the lee of what we now call Telegraph Hill, closer to the northern most islands, i.e. between the islands of Samson and Tresco, between Nut Rock and St. Mary's?  This was perfectly logical under the then prevailing weather.. Surely the position in which the pilot would have naturally chosen to place the Colossus would be exactly where many cruise ships are positioned in the anchorage of St. Mary's Roads to this day. It made no sense to place her “in 11 fathoms” as stated by Murray in his court martial, as that would have placed the warship out in Broad Sound and exposed to the wind then blowing directly up through St Marys Sound from the south east - thus placing Colossus directly in harms way on day 1. To any local sea user that would  seem totally illogical now, as it must surely have done back in 1798 to the pilot; and this is why I believe Colossus was placed more to the north of the anchorage. Yes, this makes Captain Murrays statement spurious-but then he was only human and can make mistakes just like the rest of us.

With the above in mind it is easy to imagine the ship sitting more to the north end of the anchorage under the relative protection of Telegraph Hill, between there and Nut Rock, out of the worst of the weather, from the 7th of December to the 10th. However, although relatively calmer there at this time, this particular position is where a strong ebb tide flows west from Crow Rock towards and around the ‘Southward Well’ reef. This was not such a problem in the then south easterly wind but as we now know from the records, on the 10th of December, 1798, the wind then veered and blew even harder still from a more easterly direction. Now the warship was placed in trouble. Being all but totally exposed to that new wind direction. This fresher wind would have hit her more fiercely from the east as it now funneled around the north of St Mary’s Island towards the ship. Not such a problem on a flooding tide but as soon as the tide turned to a full ebb, then the circumstances would have changed dramatically. The ebbing tide in that position flows strongly from the north easterly direction of Crow rock. Now add into the mix the sheet anchor cable being rotten as described in the archives, and you have the perfect recipe for a disaster. The rest was indeed history. The ship was pushed by wind and this strong ebb tide over to Southward Wells to be lost, leaving her sheet anchor on the sea bed with its nun buoy still attached and marking its position on the sea bed.

During mid July we did indeed discover on the sea bed, between Nut Rock and St, Mary's, a very large Angle Crown Admiralty Pattern sheet anchor. (see pictures) We measured our anchor, including the accrued sea bed concretion which is quite thick, at 18ft, 4in. in length, from crown tip to its far end (not including the ring which is a further 2ft 10in in diameter) From bill to bill the artifact is 11ft wide. Its arms are 7ft long each and its individual flukes, including the bill, are each 4ft long. The bills of the anchor are 10” long. The position of this anchor is perfect for the circumstances speculated above, even the way the shaft points today is towards the north west; perhaps as a result of the then opposing wind direction. 
What is very significant about this discovery is the fact that we have also found evidence of the nun buoy lying directly by the side of the anchor. This may indicate that it either fouled the anchor, in the strong tides of that area, to then be gradually pulled under; or that it simply sank in the bad weather that we know continued for many a day after the ship was lost. This may well have been the case given the buoy’s construction. Using 18th century technology, it was made of wooden staves, much like a cask or a barrel. It had copper ends keeping these staves together and the whole construction was encased in a rope netting.
There is no archival evidence of another mid to late 18th century Naval vessel having lost a sheet anchor in St Mary's Roads, only HMS Colossus. So could this therefore be from the now famous warship? As stated, the shape, the size, the presence of the nun buoy and the location certainly lead us to think that it could be.

 Copper end remains of the nun buoy? found directly alongside our anchor.

There is another view and this has been put forward by a local maritime historian, Mr. R Larn. Royal Navy divers lifted an anchor from the seabed, 6 miles west of our current find, somewhere in the Western Rocks of Scilly. It is recorded to have come from the HMS Association lost in 1707. It must be accepted that there was such an event in c.1968:

The Scillonian Magazine
(issue 173 Page 11.)
Scilly Can’t Have Sea-Bed Shovell Anchor
Decision Awaited

“Fleet Air Arm Divers and Naval Auxillarymen who raised a huge anchor weighing well over four tons from where Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s ship, HMS Association, is supposed to have gone down 260 years ago, cannot give it to the people of Scilly – at least not at the moment.  The Board of Trade has told the council that the anchor is now in the custody of the Official Receiver of Wrecks awaiting a decision on its ownership and the Service men are not in a position to give it to the council as has been suggested.
The wrought-iron anchor, which has a 19ft shank and is 14ft across the flukes, is technically in custody because it has been declared by the finders, but in actual fact it lies in about 30ft. of water close to Nut Rock in St. Mary’s roads. The anchor was brought there and carefully deposited on a sandy seabed last August after divers in X.S.V. Shipham, led by Lieut. – Com. Ted  Barter, of Stithians, had raised it from the wreck-site, 90ft. down among huge boulders. The anchor has not been brought into the open air for fear it will disintegrate. There is difference of opinion as to how much treatment the anchor will need to be safely preserved.”

In another edition of the same magazine of that same year, this was also recorded of the same anchor lifting event: ‘The Fleet Air Arm men, operating in the same area, raised a huge anchor, 19ft tall, and weighing almost four tons. It was thought to be a bower anchor, the type used by men of war of the Association period.’

The following was recorded in the 1976 august edition of Triton magazine by Mike Ross a diver on the scene at the time: ‘Regular diving on the site has brought in two giant bower anchors one measuring 19ft 6 inches’

This from the pen of Jack Gayton whom with along with Roy Graham; were the Royal navy divers who  first found the Association wreck site. It is another article from an old copy of Triton Magazine -October 1967 edition. This edition is from the time of the discovery of the wreck -ie -before the Roland Morris or Blue Sea divers teams had even arrived on site.  The article explains all about those very first days and even gives us a couple of quotes about the anchor the Navy team had then found. It announces that their first discovery was a single gun after which Gayton wrote: 'A systematic search was organised around that cannon and soon many others were discovered, together with an enormous anchor (shaft 19ft long and 12ft across the flukes).' .........'the size of the anchor indicates a ship of the tonnage of Association'     Roy Graham was one of the most archaeologically minded among them, therefore, Gayton and Graham, must have physically measured the navy anchor as they tried to identify the wreck they had just found. This is also the earliest quote I have seen giving it to be 19ft long etc. (Our anchor is measured at 18ft-3 inches long and 11ft wide and this includes the  thick sandy concretion) 

So, where exactly did the Navy team put their salvaged find?  This information is crucial if the Navy teams anchor is to be considered as the same as the one we recently discovered. The following information was published some 30 years after the event:
Sir Clowdisley Shovells Disaster in the Isles of Scilly, October 1707.  By Richard Larn & Peter McBride (Historical Maritime Series – No. 1) 
‘On the 19th August [1967?], the NAC-SAC where back again this time diving from (XSV) Shipham, with her sister ship Odiham remaining alongside the quay at St. Mary’s as an accommodation vessel for eighteen divers with the same leadership.  Most of available underwater time on the Gilstone was spent searching the gullies and crevices for artefacts and coin, the largest item raised being a stockless anchor weighing some 3 tons, which was placed on the seabed close to Nut Rock, and is still there to this day.’

  For the anchor to have been the Association's sheet anchor it would have been, according to- [1] -7 inches longer than our anchor and according to- [B]- 5” longer.  The records in Scillonian magazine above, which were written at the time of the raising of the Association anchor, states it as 3ft wider and 1ft longer than our one on the sea bed today.

We believe our anchor may be a 'Sutherland' design which came into being in 1717 [D] and fully adopted by the Royal Navy after that year. This is because we have measured the bills of our anchor at 10 inches long and this matches the Sutherland design; so too the considerably larger size of our flukes and sharper shape of the crown. HMS Association was lost earlier in 1707 thus the bills of her anchors should be short and the crown more rounded. {See image of Morris anchor taken from the Association and compare it with ours taken from a similar angle below }

Morris anchor lifted from Association. The Navy one would have been the same as this-although possibly even bigger.

Our angle crown anchor on the sea bed. Very different in style from that shown directly above, and in keeping with the Sutherland design features of 1717 onwards.

10 inch long bills which is just one feature of the William Sutherland design of 1717.

After an extensive search of the area with magnetometer and side scan sonar, among many other anchors, we finally found one that fit the bill; (pardon the pun) it was almost totally buried in sand with little more than the tops of its flukes protruding. This made a very small target on the side scan sonar; so that when we ground truthed and located this particular anomaly on the sea bed, it was a shock to find such a large item laying there. As soon as we started to uncover the sharp 'Angle Crown' shape we rightfully identified it immediately as from a Royal naval warship. It was measured, filmed, and its position properly recorded.  It must be noted that our anchor has a very thick covering of sea bed concretion from being totally immersed in sand for over 200 years; whereas any anchor that spent over 300 years on the rocks of the Gilstone would not have this present. In fact it would be very worn with a much thinner covering-if any concretion at all. (again see morris anchor above) The concretion on our anchor could not have grown since 1968 as the iron in the anchor would no longer be seeping heavy rust in order to attract very much more sea bed material to it.

Not only did we find the remnants of a nun buoy on our site but beneath our anchor we also retrieved a heavily concreted iron nail too, and a further concretion was below this stuck on the rocks beneath. The loose nail was lifted- the other concretion remains where it was found. This small excavation took place exactly below where the stock lugs are situated on our anchor, where one might expect to find remnants of the wooden stock or its iron fittings being present.  If the anchor were from the Association then, as with the remnants of the nun buoy, these would not be present on the sea bed either.

 The author with possible evidence of the stock being present.

More evidence.
With half the convoy the colossus escorted into Scilly present in the roadstead during the disaster, this may well have been the reason why this war ship couldn’t set sail in order to manouvre in time to get herself out of trouble as stated by the local pilot. She could not go north due to the islands and rocks on that side. She could not go east into the wind and tide & she could not go south as the other ships barred her way out. That left west to southward well only, and this is where she dragged too and was lost. It is doubtful that she would have been placed anywhere near Broad sound as, with a strong south easterly wind being present when she came in, that would have placed her right in the weather from the very begining . Not only that but the ebb tide out there runs strongly from bartholomew ledge out towards the north west where it joins the tide, coming from the direction of Crow Rock, out at Spencers Ledge. This would mean she'd more than likely have hit rocks more to the west, like the minalto or at Spencers ledge and not the Southard well where she actually ended up. No pilot would place a ship in the weather. Ships never anchor in Broad Sound at Scilly except in the calmest of conditions and even this is very rare indeed. Lastly on her position- If the ship had been placed in 11 fathoms, ie- in Broad Sound, then surely she could have set sail, turned west and sailed before the ESE wind up Broad Sound and avoided disaster by escaping out through the North west passage

Below is a picture of a big cruise ship parked up right over where our anchor lays today. She is much bigger than the Colossus was. Note the wind is on her starboard beam and coming at her from the South east- it is only a breeze in the picture- but note how she  is opposing the wind on her beam with 
her stern facing toward southard well.  When anchoring there to dive-due to the tides here- our boat is side on to any wind-no matter how strong it is. (not that we’d go out in a gale!) Furthermore, at a period in the ebb tide cycle, there is also another tide that joins the one from crow here at this point- it flows south out of Tresco channel and meets the other tide coming from Crow and both are forced together and go around the southard well reef. 

The stern of this huge ship swings directly over the find.

During our searches we have now located over 30 lost anchors. Some of these are close to Nut Rock. 3 of these have their shafts pointing in roughly the same direction as the one in question.  Im sure we will find others in the vicinity of this strong  tidal area too.

It must also be remembered that, curiously, Captain Murray failed to retrieve the ships log as it was lost in the disaster. Therefore, any testimony weeks later at a court martial, can easily be inaccurate or even wrong. Faded memory of the incident or the events just previous to it, and the likely possibility of a cover up are also a factors to be considered here.

All the circumstances in which the Colossus originally anchored at Scilly above are merely my theorising, but taken from a stand point of living in the islands and knowing the local tidal streams, around St Marys, through diving in them constantly; especially within the area of the anchorage. All other theorys are based solely on Murrays Court Martial statement of anchoring his ship 'in 11 fathoms' - without any ships log to back up the statement. 

One last piece of evidence needs to be considered: In an updated version of the book mentioned above (Sir Clowdisley Shovells Disaster in the Isles of Scilly, October 1707.  By Richard Larn & Peter McBride) which was given a new title of: Admiral Shovell’s Treasure and Shipwreck in the Isles of Scilly in 1999-new research into what happened to this anchor appears:

‘Just over a month after the initial discovery of the site on the 19th August [1967?], the Navy divers where back again under the same leadership, having put a strong case to their Lordships to continue the project.  This time the principle diving platform was the naval minesweeper (XSV) Shipham, with her sister ship Odiham remaining alongside the quay at St. Mary’s as an accommodation vessel for eighteen divers. In competition with other groups, every minute of available underwater time was spent surveying the Gilstone, searching the gullies and crevices for artefacts and coins.  The largest item located was a stockless anchor eighteen feet in the shank, weighing some three tons, which was placed on the seabed close to Nut Rock, later salvaged and taken to the mainland
[Note:  The Customs Officer was Bill Saunby who was also the Receiver of Wreck.]

Mr Larn went on local TV to dispute our find by saying it was the navy dive teams anchor we had found-even though he had never dived the site, or even spoken to us about the find and its exact position, but had previously updated and published his 'research' to the contrary above.  He recently wrote to Diver Magazine  (Oct 2013 page 122) stating that Roland Morris -'confided in me (Mr Larn) only in the late 1980's, shortly before he died, that he had not stolen the navy team's anchor, as many believed. He confirmed that it still lay off Nut Rock'  -So why did Mr Larn publish the above contradictory information in his book later in 1999 then? Go figure!

Given all this evidence- can our anchor really be the one deposited in St Marys Roads by the navy? I dont see how. For one thing we have no position of it other than Mr Larn saying he looked for it but failed to find it-where ever that was??  If one looks objectively at the artifact we actually have and takes away the history of HMS Colossus and navy activity with HMS Association- one must come to the conclusion that the artifact we have is a mid to late 18th century naval anchor that fits well with a 74 gun ship of that period and the same as the one below-in my view.
 Portsmouth naval Dockyard. Circa 1800.

However, as nobody else seems to be prepared to put forward a proper case for  the anchor possibly being from the gilstone; here are some facts and ideas in favour of the possibly of it being from that site- ie- Association and not Colossus.  Someones got to do it!

1. Position
 I have a position from the navy that puts the anchor they found (and dumped in st marys roads) being two cable lengths SE of Nut Rock. This equates to 370m SE of Nut Rock.   The anchor we lifted fell within an arc struck south to east at 400 yards distant. This is the first solid piece of evidence of a position I have dug up of the navy recovery being close to ours.
2. Finds.
Any finds we made around this anchor could be viewed as coincidental contamination. I also have an alternative idea as to what that copper object (seen above) we found by the anchor might be: It is possibly part of an- oil filled marker. -These were entirely made of copper (see below) and used right up until the 1970's and Im supposing the navy may have had them issued then. Without accurate GPS back in 1967,  its entirely possible that the navy team marked the position of their anchor in the roads with a buoy at the time. (possibly with a copper oil filled marker) and then left it- or lost it- or simply forgot to remove it. I have compared my partial copper find with just such a marker and although they do not actually match exactly, the two can be viewed as being similar in shape and size.
Copper marker buoys
3. Comparison.
The anchor that Roland Morris lifted from the gilstone site, actually measures closer to our anchor than all of the narratives of 1967-8 onwards give for the anchor lifted by the navy. However, I dont think anyone can dismiss how different our anchor looks to the Morris find -but who knows why that is? and do we know for sure how accurate any anchor dating documents, that we can refer to today, actually are?  Further to this there is only a 10 year gap between the loss of the Association in 1707 and the document produced by Sutherland later in 1717. Does this give room for overlap? it certainly cannot be totally ruled out of the equation.

For the sake of the anchor in future, I previously made it clear I was  prepared to concede that it may have come from the Gilstone. Above is a proper case to put forward in favor of it -if one so wishes.  Obviously, Mr Larn has still not explained why he published that the anchor the navy raised and dumped in St Marys Roads was:  later lifted and taken to the mainland -  however, given the caliber of some of his other published claims, (see my IMAG page and Wheels wreck page.) it is easy to ignore his anchor claim too. 

Richard Larn OBE has again written about the anchor we found out in St Marys Roads. His rather patronising article is in the latest edition of the Scillonian Magazine. (Summer 2013)
His timeline, in a nut shell, is this:-
The anchor was raised by the Navy in 1967 and placed in St Marys Roads. (True enough)
He dives the spot in 1968 but fails to relocate the anchor. (He clearly has a position)
He also states that: 'numerous diver searches also fail to relocate the anchor'   (They clearly also have a position).
He then says that the Navy team believed their anchor had been removed by salvageman Roland Morris. (Why?-probably because they cant find it as its not where they left it?)
He then publishes to the contrary that the anchor is actually: 'still there to this day'  (How does he know if its never been relocated?)
He then states that in the late 1980's that he spoke to Roland Morris and in Mr Larn's own words- "the truth emerged" when 'apparently' Morris is supposed to have said that he did not in fact remove the navys anchor that they placed in St marys Roads. -Being 'the truth'-therefore it must still be there?
So with that in mind Mr Larn then publishes in 1999 (again to the contrary) that the anchor was- 'lifted and taken to the mainland'- he clearly didn't believe Morris and must know for a fact that it has gone.  Evenso:-

We find 32 anchors in St Marys roads during our survey of the area in 2013. This area is roughly one and a half miles square. Richard Larn now states emphatically that the one anchor we have lifted is his 'missing' anchor. He has no idea of the position from which our anchor has actually come from-any more than he knows where his missing anchor is-or was. Therefore he is merely guessing that ours is the same anchor that he and his associates have continually failed to relocate-even though they clearly have a position for it.  

Roland Morris did in fact lift an anchor and take it to the mainland and there is an image of it in his book 'Island Treasure'  and he states that the anchor came from that wreck. There are 2 Royal naval angle crown anchors on display in Penzance.

Todd Stevens.

Further References.
[1] - The Established Sizes and Weights of Anchors for the Royal Navy, c.1763

Other references & notes:
A- In 1627 Captain John Smith published “A Sea Grammer2 which provided a list of the different types of anchors carried by ships at that time. It listed:
•The kedger anchor - the smallest of the anchors used in calm weather
• The stream anchor – only a little larger used in an easy tide/stream
• The bow anchor – larger - 4 in total
• The sheet anchor – the largest and heaviest of all used in emergencies
 Anchor weight was in proportion to the size of the ship. A ship of 500 tons would have a sheet anchor weight 2000 pounds of 907 kg’s.
B - William Sutherland’s “Britain’s Glory or Shipbuilding Unveiled” published in 1717.
C - Another crucial document from this time that tells us about the rules surrounding the use of the anchor was “A Treatise on Anchors”, which was published by Richard Pering in 1819.
D -  Treatise on English Anchors 1550 to 1850.
E- Anchors. An illustrated history. by Betty Nelson Curryer.

F- Triton Magazine. October 1967 & August 1976.

The Colossus
a poem By
Todd Stevens

Colossus was a warship;
-alacrity her boast,
-and she sailed with Admirals colours raised
- t’ blockade the Spanish coast.

The inshore squadron was her duty,
-the swift and sure with this were graced,
-beside Orion, Theseus and Bellerophon,
-Colossus took her pride of place.

In action at the Ile de Groix,
- her guns roared the short divide,
-and playing heartily aloft,
her piper’s rally filled the sky.

Amidst the fray where yard arms clashed,
-and men fought eye to eye,
-with guns run out and flames unleashed,
-they let the iron fly.

When Aboukir was over
- and escort duty was the task,
-she was loaded beneath Vesuvius,
-with Greek antiquities from the past.

A course set for dear old England,
-and men climbed among the shrouds,
where billowing the sails aloft,
-they strive to emulate the clouds.

She beat her way across Biscay,
and the stormy channel home,
-better days the grand ol’ ship had seen,
- Oaken walls a- creakin in the foam.

If she’d not met with disastrous end,
-by Southard Well upon rollin’ maine,
-repaired at dear old blighty,
-they would’ve set her sails again.

Her demise was more romantic,
-her name in history was etched,
- she and her cargo to the bottom went
-and became a total wreck.

Tho’ think of her as she once was,
- stretched afore a rushing blast,
-with pennon flapping high aloft,
and many men before the mast.

Percieve Roman God Apollo,
-with outstretched arm upon her bow;
victorious the crown held in his hand,
-tho’ he’s gone, forever, now.