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The Stirling Castle, a 70-gun Ship Lost in the Great Storm of 1703: Archaeological Investigations 1979-2009

Julian Whitewright
Publication Year:
English with summary in French and German
264 pages, Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 23 tables, 188 figures.
Sub-series name:
The Maritime Archaeology Trust Monograph Series (formerly Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology Monograph Series), 4
BAR number:


This book examines the archaeological investigations undertaken between 1979 and 2009 on the wreck of the Stirling Castle a 70-gun third-rate ship of the line, lost on the Goodwin Sands, Kent during the Great Storm of 1703. Included is a history of the warship, a detailed account of archaeological investigations undertaken and the environmental factors impacting the seabed remains. A review of the ship’s construction draws on records of structure remaining on the seabed and recovered material. The artefact collection is considered by material and type. Specialist analysis has enabled greater understanding of ship fittings, weapons, navigation equipment, medical artefacts, food preparation and consumption, clothing and apparel, and life onboard. The volume demonstrates the value of studying dispersed archives from shipwreck excavations and their potential to add considerably to maritime history and archaeology. In this case the examined archaeological records and artefacts from the Stirling Castle offer a compelling insight into the maritime world of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from a range of perspectives.

Dr Julian Whitewright worked on the production of the Stirling Castle publication in his role as Maritime Archaeologist with the Maritime Archaeology Trust. Julian is now a Senior Teaching Fellow in Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, where he is a coordinator of Postgraduate Teaching in Archaeology.

List of contributors: Polydora Baker, Duncan H. Brown, Gill Campbell, Amelia Couldrey, Kathryn Dagless, David Dungworth, Christin Heamagi, Simon Mays, Angela Middleton, Julie Satchell, Mariangela Vitolo.

‘Julian Whitewright, with help from contributors, has done an exceptional job piecing together decades of site records, archaeological investigations and artifact analyses into one incredibly informative publication.’ Kurt Bennett, Journal of Maritime Archaeology, Vol 17, 2022

‘This  is  a  fascinating  investigation,  with a beautifully presented archive of material, resulting  in  a  gripping  story  of  the  real-world  events around the life and loss of Stirling Castle.’ Jack Pink, The Mariner’s Mirror, Vol 107.1, 2021

‘(A) comprehensive digest of results to date, and a vade mecum for anyone wishing to identify and consult the primary sources, some of which are in private hands.’ Colin Martin, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Vol 50, 2021

‘This book is an exemplar of rescue archaeology under water. The site’s closed context and wide range of material evidence make it relevant to all post-medieval archaeologists, irrespective of the environment in which they work’. Colin J M Martin, Honorary Reader in Maritime Archaeology, University of St Andrews

'A remarkable and comprehensive account of the undeservedly little-known history of the Stirling Castle, from its building at Deptford dockyard in 1679, as part of Samuel Pepys' shipbuilding programme, to its loss on the Goodwin Sands off Kent. Its discovery by Thanet amateur divers and subsequent investigation has given us a unique record of the onboard lives of the crew, both naval and personal. This is ably revealed through the meticulous study of both the structure of the ship and its artefacts examined in this work. The Stirling Castle should take its place as a wreck of national and international importance.' Margaret Symonds, Chair, Isle of Thanet Archaeological Society

Table of Contents (B656_9781407356877_ToC.pdf, 119 Kb) [Download]

Introduction (B656_9781407356877_Series_Editorial_Introduction.pdf, 218 Kb) [Download]