In the 1980s, the British treasure hunter J.Bugge reported to have located an 18th century shipwreck at the Ebber Rocks of Cornwall. Bugge had spent several years surveying the area, in search for the Dutch Admiralty warship Brielle, which was known to have wrecked there in 1791 or 1792, and he now claimed success. From a depth of 7 meters, he raised several cannon, cannonballs, ceramic fragments and otherartefacts, which supposedly confirmed the identification. However, detailed information on the items and characteristics of the wreck has remained absent, and not much is known of its current condition.
Fate of the Brielle
Not much is known about Brielle's history. Although sources indicate that a 36 gun fourth-rate ship-of-the line named Brielle was built for the Admiralty of Rotterdam in 1786, it is unlikely that this was the same ship. The 1786 ship supposedly wrecked in 1790, while Bugge's Brielle was reported to have been lost on its maiden voyage from the Netherlands to Lisbon and Demerarain 1791/1792. Possibly, the first Brielle was quickly replaced by the latter, which unfortunately was to suffer the same fate.
After the Dutch frigate had struck shore near Chynhalls Point on the night of 22 December 1791, its hold filled with water as the tide rose. The signal guns that were fired not only attracted the attention of rescue boats, which succeeded to save all but 6 of the 350 sailors and soldiers on board, but also that of the local inhabitants. According to Lieut. Webber, who had been sent to Falmouth to inspect the loss of the Brielle, "the country people [...] went down to the wreck in great numbers, armed with weapons, and plundered the ship and people of everything they could lay hold of [...]", adding that "they even stripped the people of thecloathsoff their backs!". Just five days after the incident, the ship was found broken to pieces.
Type: Frigate, warship
Associated with: Dutch Republic, Dutch Admiralty
Location: Falmouth, United Kingdom
Heritage status: Legally protected
Institutions involved: English Heritage
Although not much is known of the condition of the shipwreck, the site is listed as an underwater archaeological monument by English Heritage.