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The Diamond

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Map ReferenceSH52SW
Grid ReferenceSH5279122007
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMaritime
Old CountyMaritime
Type Of SiteWRECK
PeriodPost Medieval
This site is designated as a Historic Wreck under Protections of Wrecks Act 1973 (National Assembly for Wales, The Protection of Wrecks Designation of `The Diamond' (Wales) Order 2002). The protected area around the wreck is a radius of 200m (0.11 nautical miles) from the co-ordinate 52 46.531 N 04 11.025W. Diving or any interference including filming, survey and excavation within the protected area of a designated wreck is a criminal offence unless a license has first been obtained from the Welsh Assembly Government. Cadw should be contacted in the first instance.

The wreck site lies on the northern side of Sarn Badrig, a bank of gravel that extends over 12 miles out from the Gwynedd Coast. The outline of the remains of the vessel on the seabed is defined by structural iron supports for the wooden framing and runs of copper sheathing from the outside of the wooden hull. The remains include ballast mounds and two iron boxes interpreted as water tanks. The iron supports or knee riders are L-shaped, with a longer curving downwards arm and a shorter, straighter horizontal arm to support the deck beams. Other iron bars, formed into `Z' and `W' shapes, provided bracing and re-enforcing for others areas of the hull. Three small exploratory trenches excavated in 2004 confirm that there are wooden structural remains (outer and inner ceiling planking and frames) beneath the seabed. It is possible that the lower hull of the vessel survives to the turn of the bilge. A large number of iron and cuprous fastenings provide additional evidence for a wooden hull structure with substantial iron strengthening but which is unlikely to have been what is understood as `composite construction'. Three discrete areas of ballast are recorded comprising well-sorted cobbles and small boulders. A capstan was salvaged prior to designation. The seabed is fairly flat and made up on fine gravel with a sand. The site manifests a magnetic gradient reading of 1162.53 nT/m. The immediate vicinity of the wreck supports a heavy covering of several types of weed. To the east, there are three small anomalies within 45m and to the west some 38m away, another area of debris measuring 27m x 17m containing at least five distinct objects.

Event and Historical Information:
The site was discovered in the summer of 2000. It was designated in April 2002 after it was potentially identified as the oldest known example of a American 'composite' built hull. The DIAMOND was built in New York in 1823 and is described as a sloop, 130ft in length, 490 ton, and constructed of pine on oak frames. There was some suggestion that after the sloop's initial voyage to Liverpool, the vessel was fitted with iron framing to augment the original oak framing. The DIAMOND was owned by Josiah Macy, later associated with Josiah Macey and Sons, Shipping Agents and Insurers, and the Macey Foundation. A nephew of Josiah Macey founded the well-known Maceys Department Store in New York. The DIAMOND was built to make regular fast passages across the Atlantic. However, in the early hours of 2 January 1825, in the mistaken belief that the vessel was far enough north to turn east for Liverpool, the vessel sailed into the northern end of Cardigan bay and struck the San Badrig reef before driving over and sinking. The loss was reported in local newspapers as a 'calamitous' shipwreck. A boat returning with some of the rescued passengers and crew was overturned in the surf and all were onboard drowned.
The background research and survey work that has been undertaken by local people, in addition to the analysis of samples of timbers, fastenings and cuprous sheathing, is beginning to confirm that the site is unlikely to be the DIAMOND. The vessel on the seabed is some 40ft longer than the officially recorded length of the DIAMOND. Moreover, dendrochronological dating of the timbers suggests as vessel built after 1840. Nevertheless, the site is providing valuable information about a vessel from an important transitional period in shipbuilding - from wood to iron and steel.

Sources include:
Archaeological Diving Unit Report to the ACHWS 2001
Licensee's report 2002 season. NA/ME/2003/018g
Licence's report of 2004 season, NA/ME/2005/001e
Nayling, N, 2005, Wood identification of samples for the Designated Historic Wreck Site `the Diamond', Cardigan Bay. NA/ME/2005/002e
Receiver of Wreck Droits Database 2007 RCIM6/2/5
Thomas, E, 1997, The Diamond Shipwreck Charity, Maritime Wales/Cymru a'r Mor 19: p88
Wessex Archaeology, 2004, Diamond, Sarn Badrig, Cardigan Bay, Designated Site Assessment: Preliminary Report, report ref: 53111.02u, NA/ME/2005/002e
Wessex Archaeology, 2006, Diamond, Cardigan Bay, Designated Site Assessment: Full Report, report ref: 53311.03u. NA/Gen/2006/009e
Wessex Archaeology, 2010, Wrecks off the Coast of Wales: Marine Geophysical Surveys and Interpretation, Report Ref: 53111.02-5, pg64, WA ID 7254

Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, July 2012.
application/mswordWC - Wrecks Collection
application/pdfAENT - Archaeological Reports/Evaluations (non Trust)
application/pdfAENT - Archaeological Reports/Evaluations (non Trust)
application/mswordWC - Wrecks Collection
application/mswordWC - Wrecks Collection
application/ - Wrecks Collection
application/mswordWC - Wrecks Collection
application/mswordWC - Wrecks Collection