Record Details

NHER Number:18726
Type of record:Maritime
Name:The Happisburgh Foul Object


What appears to be a large mound of stone blocks has been recorded on the sea bed just over two miles offshore. It has variously been interpreted as the wreck of a ship that sank with a cargo of stone in 1862, the harbour wall of an eroded medieval village, the ruins of a castle-like building, a late Roman 'Saxon Shore' Fort and a natural formation.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 4152 3341
Map Sheet:TG43SW

Full description

Letter (S1) in file refers to an object marked as a wreck at 52 degrees 50' 37 seconds north, 01 degrees 35' 13 seconds east on Admiralty charts.
Charts checked by E. Rose (NAU), 26 January 1983.
Wreck is more like 01 degrees 36' OO seconds, (but obviously the same object).
Writer of letter dived on object and states he found it not to be a wreck but a 'ruined castle-like building' although 2.06 sea miles offshore.
He thought it was a watch tower.
Composed of jumbled stone blocks in symmetrical fashion.
P. Lawrence (NCM) told E. Rose (NAU) that this might be a 'flint turtle' (a kind of natural formation).
However, a diver on the Mary Rose said this sounded like concretion round a wreck, the wreck itself having rotted away.

A. Gregory (NAU) states that the object might be a Roman fort of the Saxon Shore.
E. Rose (NAU), 28 January 1983.

E. B. Green (NCM) has been told by informant that this is the wreck of a ship carrying a cargo of building stone in about 1870.
Details to come.
E. Rose (NAU), 24 March 1983.

In fact February 7 1862, The Planter sailing from Goole to Dover with a cargo of stone, sunk in collision with the brig 'Matthew' of Sunderland bound for London.
Three drowned.
E. Green (NCM), February 1983 (to NAU July 1983).

However newspaper report (S2) says the mass is L-shaped, 68.5m by 182m (75 by 200 yards) and up to 12.2m (40 feet) high.
'Several thousand tons of stone; too much for a ship cargo'.
Suggests harbour wall of Whimpwell deserted medieval village. This seems unlikely.

Monument Types

  • WRECK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Correspondence: Simmonds, A., UEA. 1980. Letter to E. Rose (NAU). 9 January.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1987. Divers' find could be sunken village. 30 September.

Related records - none

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