Divers find royalist warship off Scots coast

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A SUNKEN 17th century warship - believed to have been part of a royalist invasion fleet during the English Civil War - has been discovered by divers off the west coast of Scotland, writes David Keys.

Finds recovered from the wreck - located in 35ft (10.6m) of water near Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull - include part of the heraldic emblem of Charles, Prince of Wales (later Charles II), carved in wood bearing the words Ich Dien below a crown and three feathers.

After examining more than 80 objects brought up from the vessel, archaeologists estimate that it was sunk between 1642 and 1660 - probably in 1648.

In spring of that year the Prince was conspiring with the Scottish government to launch an invasion of England to remove Cromwell and re-establish the monarchy. In preparation it is thought likely that the Scottish authorities decorated the small number of ships in their fleet with the Prince's personal heraldic emblem, as he was to have led the invasion.

But in August the Scottish leader, the Duke of Hamilton, was captured by Cromwell's forces and the invasion plan faltered and then collapsed when, later in the year, the anti-royalist Campbell clan seized power in Scotland.

The ship was sunk opposite Duart castle, which was held by the Duke of Hamilton's potential allies, the anti-Campbell Maclean clan. It is possible, therefore, that the vessel was sunk by Campbell forces during the conflict of 1648.

Excavations revealed that the vessel was small but well armed, carried high status personnel and that some lost their lives when it sank.