City’s archaeological experts steer the right course for rudder’s restoration

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Conservationists in York have revealed their latest treasure – a huge rudder with an ornate carving of a man’s face raised from the wreckage of a 17th century ship, to Culture Minister Ed Vaizey.

The MP visited a warehouse in the city yesterday where experts from York Archaeological Trust are restoring the impressive remnant.

It was discovered in Poole Harbour, Dorset, nine years ago.

English Heritage commissioned a team from Bournemouth University to recover the rudder after it was found during an investigation of an anomaly identified during a geophysical survey.

Early theories suggest the that the location indicates the remains are those of a Dutch or German armed cargo vessel.

The wooden ship, found laden with pottery, appears to have foundered in the Swash Channel after 1630.

The rudder itself is 8.5 metres long.

English Heritage has spent more than £200,000 on the its recovery and expert analysis.

The Trust has one of the few conservation laboratories with specialist equipment and expertise to deal with underwater finds, said Ian Panter, the Trust’s principal conservator.

“It’s rare to find such a nationally important collection that is so well preserved,” he added.

Mark Dunkley, maritime designation adviser at English Heritage, said the now-protected wreck site was the most significant since the Mary Rose, and nothing like this particular rudder had been found in the UK.

Once restored, it will be returned to Poole Museum where it will go on display.

Mr Dunkley added: “It’s testament to York’s position as a centre of excellence in archaeology that the wreck has been transported here for the highly skilled conservation work to be done here by the York Archaeological Trust.”

Mr Vaizey said: “It’s fascinating to see first-hand the expert work being done by the York Archaeological Trust to restore and conserve the Swash Channel Wreck so it can be returned to Poole Museum.”

The Minister also called at Wakefield’s award-winning Hepworth Gallery.

Tweeting afterwards, he said: “Finally got to visit Chipperfield’s stunning @hepworthwakefield with its amazing collection and setting, already well established two years in.”