The Swash Channel Wreck lies in approximately 7m of water on a flat sand and shingle seabed immediately adjacent to the eastern edge of the dredged section of the Swash Channel in the approaches to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The site was discovered by Wessex Archaeology on behalf of Poole Harbour Commissioners and Poole Borough Council as part of the Poole Harbour Channel Deepening and Beneficial Use Scheme. The site was designated as a Historic Wreck under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 on Friday 10 December 2004. Since the sites designated the archaeological licence has been held by the Poole Harbour Commissioners Harbour Engineer with Bournemouth University undertaking fieldwork and providing archaeological advice for the site since late 2005.
The site consists of articulated hull structure consisting of the lower portion of a ships hull running from the stern of the vessel forward for approximately two thirds of the vessels length when the lower portion of the ships hull gradually disappears and the surviving remains roll into the port bow and forecastle upperworks. Work on the site has also revealed the presence of the ships rudder, 8.4m in length it has a carving of a male human head on its upper portion. The structure extends for as long as 40m in a SW-NE axis and in area up to 14m in SE-NW axis. In some areas, the site may contain buried stratigraphy up to 2.5m deep. Other finds from the site include at least 6 iron cannon, wooden barrels, rigging elements, copper, pewter and ceramic domestic material.
Dating evident recovered includes Rhenish stoneware dated to around 1600 – 1620 and Dendrochronological work undertaken by Nigel Naying of Lampeter University has provided a felling date for a single timber of post 1585. The evidence to date suggest a that the wreck is of a relatively, for the period, high status ship.
Bournemouth work on the site combines academic research with student training by meeting research priorities while offering students the opportunity to build experience in a wide range of project management and underwater skills. Both diving and non-diving students are involved in all phases of the project, providing them with an understanding of the different tasks and responsibilities involved in running a field project, from the preparation of equipment to the production of a client report. They are actively encouraged to think about management issues as well as their own tasks on the site to date has included archaeological recording of the site and recovery of archaeological material considered under threat and environmental monitoring which has shown the site is uncovering from an eroding seabed and is then biologically degraded by aggressive marine wood borers. Work has included the identification of warm water species that can be interpreted as an indication of global warming.