AN ancient anchor discovered during survey work for an offshore wind farm could be on display by museums in Colchester and Ipswich.

The 100kg wrought iron anchor, which is over two meters long, was discovered during work at ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm.

It was first discovered in 2018 during seabed survey work before the wind farm was built, around 25 miles off the coast of Suffolk.

Brandon Mason, of Maritime Archeology Ltd, spent hours monitoring the anchor on the seabed and was on board an offshore support vessel as the anchor was lifted more than 140ft to the surface and brought back ashore last year.

He said: “Everything indicates that this is an almost 2,000 year old Roman anchor, which is an incredibly rare piece of history.

“If this date is confirmed, it would be hard to overstate its significance – we only know of three pre-Viking anchors from northern European waters outside the Mediterranean region and only two actually survived.

“We believe this discovery may be the oldest and one of the largest surviving examples, giving us tangible evidence of the incredible amount of activity that must have taken place in the waters in Roman times, but whose we know relatively little.

“It’s an absolute privilege to raise the anchor to the surface and share its story with people not just in the east of England, but around the world.”

Photo issued by ScottishPower Renewables of an anchor discovered during prospecting work for an offshore wind farm which may date back to Roman times

He said the anchor would be on permanent display, in conjunction with the Colchester and Ipswich museums, after further conservation and analysis work.

The anchor is believed to be between 1,600 and 2,000 years old and came from a 500 to 600 ton ship, according to those who have surveyed it.

If it dates from the time of the Roman occupation of Britain, they said it would most likely come from one of the largest merchant ships in the Roman fleet.

Analysis to confirm the age of the anchor is ongoing.

The Classis Britannica was the regional fleet of the Roman province of Britannia and Britain’s premier navy.

It operated from the mid-1st century to the mid-3rd century and employed merchant ships to transport foodstuffs, troops, horses, and war machines such as catapults and battering rams.

Very little physical maritime evidence of this has been discovered.

Conservation work on the anchor is carried out by specialists commissioned by ScottishPower Renewables, Maritime Archeology Ltd, in conjunction with Mary Rose Archaeological Services, and with advice and guidance from Historic England.

The anchor is the latest in a series of historical discoveries during work on the wind farm.

These include a missing German submarine from World War I and numerous artifacts from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Medieval periods.

Other discoveries include a prehistoric monument dating back over 4,000 years, with a rare Neolithic wooden track and platform and an ancient wild cattle skull radiocarbon dated to around 6,000 years ago.

Ross Ovens, Managing Director of ScottishPower Renewables – East Anglia Hub – said: “Our East Anglia ONE wind farm has proven to be an archaeological treasure – both onshore and offshore – and this latest discovery shows that it continues to give.”

Stuart Churchley, Archaeological Officer of Marine Planning for Historic England, said: ‘The discovery of a potentially significant anchor of this date, amongst the vast expanse of seabed in the southern North Sea, is testimony to the careful measures and methodical taken by the East Anglia ONE. project.”

Councilor Carole Jones, Ipswich Council’s portfolio holder for Ipswich Museums, said the anchor will only be available for visitors to ‘get a first look at’ on Tuesday, before it is removed for conservation work before definitively returning to the collection in 2025.

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