Research


In the fall of 2004, during beach replenishment of Lewes Beach, a dredging company struck a submerged archaeological site; bringing up and distributing artifacts across the beach. Further investigations, including underwater archaeological surveys, were undertaken in 2005-2006. The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, with the grateful assistance of many local citizens and volunteers, have retrieved approximately 80,000 artifacts from this shipwreck.

Analysis and research, which are ongoing, have confirmed this to be the wreck site of what we believe is an 18th century, pre-Revolutionary War (1762-1775) mercantile cargo vessel. It would have been destined for Philadelphia, which was the largest and one of the most important cities in the British American colonies at this time.

While we have not been able to confirm the identity of this vessel, it was most likely British. It was loaded with a cargo of household goods bound for the shelves of Philadelphia retail merchants. Since the original sources of this cargo can be traced to Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, China, Africa and Russia, it is likely British merchants/shippers were securing British-made goods as well as importing others from these countries for the express purpose of re-exporting them for sale in the colonies. In return, Britain would acquire furs, wheat, timber and other commodities to fuel its ever expanding Industrial Revolution. Britain led the world in trading and shipping at this time.

Today, we frequently hear the term "world-wide economy" to demonstrate just how interlinked our commerce is with other countries. It can be noted, this shipwrecked vessel is also a physical reminder that there existed a 'world-wide trading economy' in the eighteenth century.

This shipwreck has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places to recognize its historic significance to Delaware history. It is the property of the State of Delaware and, as such, is protected under Delaware law.