Thanks to BBC News for this:

The 340-year-old Gloucester warship was discovered after a cannon was spotted by divers on the seabed

The discovery of a shipwrecked warship that sank while carrying a future King has been hailed the most important maritime find since the Mary Rose.

The Gloucester ran aground off the coast of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in 1682, nearly killing the Duke of York, who became King James II of England.

The find, which was discovered by divers in 2007, has only just been revealed due to security reasons.

Maritime expert Prof Claire Jowitt said it was of “international importance”.

Gloucester Warship

The Gloucester’s exact whereabouts were a mystery until it was discovered 15 years ago half-buried in the seabed 28 miles (45km) out to sea, having sunk while navigating treacherous sandbanks.

The disaster, in which hundreds of passengers and crew died, threatened to change the course of history.

However, the then Duke of York fled the sinking ship with moments to spare and went on to become the Catholic heir to the Protestant throne in an era marked by religious and political unrest.

Prof Jowitt, an authority on maritime cultural history and based at Norwich’s University of East Anglia (UEA), said: “Because of the circumstances of its sinking, this can be claimed as the single most significant historic maritime discovery since the raising of the Mary Rose in 1982.

Gloucester Warship

“The discovery promises to fundamentally change understanding of 17th Century social, maritime and political history.

“It is an outstanding example of underwater cultural heritage of national and international importance… the full story of the Gloucester’s last voyage and the impact of its aftermath needs re-telling.”

Norfolk-based printer brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, together with their late father, friend James Little and another unnamed friend, spent four years on diving expeditions to find the Gloucester’s watery grave.

Lincoln said he was inspired by memories of the Mary Rose’s lifting, but the team was feeling defeated when he eventually spotted a large cannon on the seabed.

“It was awe-inspiring and really beautiful,” he said.

“It instantly felt like a privilege to be there, it was so exciting.

Gloucester Warship

“We were the only people in the world at that moment in time who knew where the wreck lay – that was special and I’ll never forget it.”

His brother Julian said they initially had no idea how historically significant the Gloucester was.

“We had read the Duke of York was on board but that was it,” he said.

“We were confident it was the Gloucester, but there are other wreck sites out there with cannons, so it still needed to be confirmed.

“There is still a huge amount of knowledge to be gained from the wreck, which will benefit Norfolk and the nation.”

Although the team discovered the 340-year-old shipwreck in 2007, it was not until the ship’s bell was recovered in 2012 that the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence decisively identified it.

Since then the “at risk” site – in international waters – has had to be protected, which is why the discovery is only now being made public and its exact location undisclosed.

Gloucester Warship

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