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Stone anchors

Underwater archaeology survey at Sicar Rock, Dunbar

Underwater archaeology survey at Sicar Rock, Dunbar

Diving the depths…

Archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology recently went back to the site where the anchors were found, at Sicar Rock in Dunbar Harbour.  They dived with members of the local Sub-aqua club and to the area where the anchors were found.  Despite the rough seas they discovered one anchor still lying on the sea bed!  They hope to go back to the site to do some geophysical survey. 

How old are they?

Research revealed even more about the anchors – and raised some questions!  Stone anchors are often found by divers.  Many have been found in the Mediterranean coming from ancient Greek and Roman boats.  Other anchors that have been found in Britain have been dated to the Iron Age or Roman periods but some are dated as late as the medieval period.  Most have no dating evidence at all. 

The Dunbar anchors can’t be dated by comparison with any of these as they are not similar enough.  They are unusual in having two holes as most anchors have either one or three holes.  We also don’t know anything about their ‘context’ or how they got there.  They have been found on the sea bed but with nothing to tell us of their date such as the remains of the boat they came from!

Did you know?

An anchor is aweigh when it has just begun to put weight on the rope when it is being hauled up.

What sort of boats were the anchors from?

The variation in shape suggests they may come from a group of small vessels.  If so the boats would have been quite small and probably used by local fishermen making journeys to and from the shore.  They are made of sandstone and weigh around 25kg so could be lifted by one person.  They could come from a single larger vessel, which carried a number of anchors, each hauled over the side by one person.  Unfortunately it can’t be proven either way as their precise location along the seabed ridge where they were found is unclear. 

What do you think?

You can find the full report on the anchors here:

4 thoughts on “Stone anchors”

  1. Julian Beard says:

    A stone anchor was found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the 1970’s at St. Helena Island. It was sent to the UK for analysis and never seen again. Any idea what it could ha e been doing here? The island was discovered in 1502 BYW

    1. BillW says:

      Julian. I’m sorry to say but we mainly deal with enquiries regarding the history of East Lothian and this is way beyond my knowledge.

  2. David Bentata says:

    I have this anchor and would like to know its value …. would you be able to assess this?

    1. HanitaR says:

      Hi David,
      I’m afraid we do not provide any valuation services as we are part of a local authority/Council.
      All the best.

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