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The Rigging of HMS Invincible.

Cousins, T., 2022. The Rigging of HMS Invincible. Masters Thesis (Masters). Bournemouth University.

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This research will catalogue and record the rig of the HMS Invincible at the time of its wrecking and compare and contrast findings with historical, iconographic and other archive records from the time in order to reconstruct the type of rigging it carried. The rigging is the most important part of the ship, allowing it to travel long distances and manoeuvre in battle and coming into port; however, as it is a rare survival in the archaeological record most of the information about rigging in the period has been taken from historical sources and ships models. However, it remains unclear how accurate historical records are, as they have never been tested against physical evidence with regard to these details; being able to compare rigging reconstructed from the rare primary archaeological evidence available from HMS Invincible with that documented historically will allow reconstruction of this crucial element of the ship and also demonstrate the accuracy of historical documents and thus how far archaeologists and historians can rely on these complementary lines of evidence in other contexts. HMS Invincible offers a unique opportunity to validate the historical documents in this way due to the extraordinary preservation of the rigging from this shipwreck. Rigging is a rare survival on shipwrecks with the majority either being washed away in the wrecking process or recovered through contemporary salvage. Where rigging tends to survive it is usually in stores or trapped underneath the main wreck, meaning that most will not be discovered unless there is extensive excavation. Of the 305 Royal Navy wrecks lost between 1670 and 1770 only 24 have been archaeologically investigated, of these 24 of Invincible w.1758 and Dartmouth w.1690 have produced significant rigging collections with most sites producing no rigging or just tropical hardwood sheaves. The Invincible is also of enormous significance as it marks a transition point in ship technology. Invincible’s career dates to an historical period right at the tail end of what can be best described as ‘traditional’ shipbuilding technologies and materials. Indeed, it has been argued that the drive to improve ship-building technology to remain competitive in an increasingly globalized marketplace (as well as to protect and defend national interests against competitors via warfare) was a major factor driving industrialization. Increasingly global trade also provided new materials such as tropical hardwoods from the colonies for use in hand-crafting individual rigging elements. Such changes that led to further technological developments, thus ratcheting technological development in this and other arenas. Tropical hardwoods appear in the archaeological records in c.1665 and by 1770 the Royal Navy adopted lighter machine-made blocks, making this period a turning point in shipbuilding technologies. Although various part of the rigging has been individually recorded and described, this material has not been studied as a whole and the accuracy of historical documentation is debatable. This MRes will examine the archaeological evidence, reconstruct the likely configuration of the rigging Invincible carried based on this primary evidence, and compare that with evidence from the historical records for the time, focusing on the periods between the appearance of tropical hardwoods in ship manufacturing technology and the adoption of light machine-made blocks in 1665. The result will be a much greater understanding of the most important part of maritime technology at a critical point in the history of shipbuilding.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:maritime archaeology; ships; rigging; HMS Invincible
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:37484
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:09 Sep 2022 14:13
Last Modified:09 Sep 2022 14:13


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