Wreck 5011 The Portland Stone Wreck


Site 5011 lies in 7.7m deep water (CD) east of Selsey Bill an an area called "The Park". The seabed around the site consists of gravel. The wreck was located by the UKHO in 1976 and charted as an obstruction. In 1982 divers described it as a "very old wooden vessel".
A number of geophysical surveys as well as a short diving assessment and a longer evaluation were carried out by Wessex Archaeology in 2002 and 2003. The fieldwork involved the documentation of diagnostic features on site using drawing and sketches as well as underwater photography and video.
Click the spots below to view underwater photographs and video footage from the dive.

Plan of Wreck 5011Anchor Winch Port Side Structure Starboard Bow Stone Cargo Pump Stove


The archaeological evidence collected during the WA surveys helped to characterise and interpret the wrecksite. A final identification of the wreck could not be achieved.
The so called Portland Stone Wreck was a carvel built, single masted sailing vessel, with the mast situated well forward in the front third of the vessel. The ship was approximately 15-16m long and 5.5m wide. It was fairly flat bottomed.
It probably represents the remains of a sailing barge or barge-like vessel, which sank in the second half of the 19th century with a cargo of Portland stone.


A small iron admiralty type anchor located in the bow section. The stock is buried.

Port Side

Due to the angle of the hull on the seabed, the portside is better preserved than the starboard side. Frames, outer planks and ceiling planks are visible almost from bow to stern.

Possible Pump Tube

A hollow iron pipe was found forward of the stove. This is probably the pump pipe of the vessels bilge pump.

Starboard bow area

The starboard side is eroded to the level of the floor timbers. Outer planking and floor timbers are visible on the seabed. All outer planks were fastened with trenails.

Stone cargo

The cargo consisted of large stone slabs, presumably of Portland stone. The stones are still stacked in the position of the former hold. They are angled towards the starboard side.

Stone slab in-situStone slab in-situ

Multibeam data in 3D showing the angle of the stacked slabs.Multibeam data in 3D showing the angle of the stacked slabs.


A small cast iron stove was found in the stern area of the vessel. The position of the stove within the site indicates the location of the aft cabin.


An iron winch case was observed on the portside, about 3m from the presumed bow