Exciting discoveries at Oban

This view along the engine of the newly discovered flying boat shows the incredible level of preservation.

Our first two days of SAMPHIRE fieldwork have started with a major discovery. Just last week the Dalriada dive club reported a new flying boat site in the Firth of Lorn, a second Sunderland, to add to the recently discovered Catalina and Sunderland, bringing the total to three. The new wreck site appears to be the best preserved of all, with propellers and wings still in place. A wing has also been discovered, but strangely, despite the fact that one of the Sunderland’s wings is missing, this appears to be from a fourth flying boat. Taken together this collection of flying boats is truly of national significance. We are particularly grateful to John Beaton and Jeff Darby of the Dalriada Dive Club for sharing their discoveries and photographs with marine heritage professionals. We have also been helped by Shane Wasik of Basking Shark Scotland who has provided footage of the first two sites.

SAMS diver and archaeologist Elaine Azzopardi inspects the broken wing of a flying boat in the Firth of Lorn during yesterday’s diving surveys.

For the last two days Wessex archaeologist and SAMPHIRE team member Drew Roberts has been working with the dive team from the Dusntaffnage-based Scottish Institute of Marine Science to record the flying boats and try to understand and identify them. We will be posting further updates as more data comes in.

SAMS hydrographers have been re-analysing the INIS Hydro multibeam data and made a number of new discoveries.

While Drew was undertaking the dive surveys, John McCarthy, SAMPHIRE project manager, has been working with the hydrographers in the SAMS base at Dunstaffnage to record some new archaeological sites which are being found as a result of a new analysis of the dataset. This has led to around ten new features which are thought to be wrecks being identified in the last week. We will be diving some of these sites later in the week and also sharing the data with local dive clubs at Dalriada and Lochaline Dive Centre to find out what these intriguing sites are.

The SAMPHIRE team are mobilising this morning to begin our circumnavigation of Skye, starting from Oban and returning on the 14th of July, with dive investigations every day so keep an eye of the blog for exciting discoveries!