With Burry Holmes at the northern end, and Worm’s Head at the southern, the large expanse of
But not visible is a more famous wreck, called “The Dollar Ship”, the precise details of which are lost in legend. She may have been a Spanish vessel wrecked beyond the low tide line during the seventeenth century, possibly around the year 1660. At one time she was believed to have been carrying a vast treasure, the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese princess who came to
In 1807 exceptional tides uncovered for a few hours part of a wreck beyond the low tide mark. This prompted a “gold rush” in west Gower, for Spanish coins from the early seventeenth century were uncovered. Over 12lbs in weight of Spanish dollars, half-dollars and pieces-of-eight were dug up, some coins dated 1625 and others 1639, from the time of King Philip IV of
Though the tide came in and the sands closed over the site, there was a similar “gold rush” again in 1833, when C.R.M. Talbot of Penrice waived his right as lord of the manor to the finds, so some local people had a windfall. Rev. William Griffiths, Lady Barham’s minister at Cheriton Chapel, commented on the enthusiasm with which people hastened to the beach to seek gold coins, while being unconcerned about seeking spiritual riches.
Besides coins being uncovered, there were also lead bullets, pewter, and part of an astrolabe (an old navigational instrument). According to Rev. J.D. Davies, who recounts legends as well as actual history in his “History of West Gower”, two iron cannon were also recovered, and mounted in the
A letter of 3rd December 1666 states that a vessel, laden with wine, sugar and
Writing in “Gower Gleanings” in 1951, Horatio Tucker points out that a ship that had grounded in the darkness would have been pounded mercilessly by the waves, and would disintegrate in the broken water to leave no trace of her visible by the morning. Local people would have been unaware that any shipwreck had taken place until those exceptional tides of 1807, and it would have been difficult to salvage a wreck beyond the low water mark.
Perhaps at the time of the equinoctial tides people with metal detectors will be scouring