A mysterious shipwreck that appeared every 20 years on a Maine beach has been dated to before the Revolutionary War.
Researcher Stefan Claesson told Fox News that the wreck on York Beach was first exposed and documented following a Nor’easter in 1958. It was exposed again during the Blizzard of 1978 and then in Nor’easters in 2007, 2013 and 2018, he explained.
“The wreck received a lot of interest in 1958,” Claesson told Fox News via email. “At that time, it was thought it may be a Viking ship, but more likely a New England built ship, perhaps a common type of vessel known as a pinky or pink.”
While portions of the ship appear to have been vandalized and removed in 1958, experts have recently gained fresh insight into the wreck.
“We now know that it is a New England-built vessel, perhaps the sloop Defiance, built in 1754 and that wrecked in 1769,” Claesson added. “Historical records document that Defiance was sailing from Salem, MA to Portland, ME with a cargo of flour, pork, and English goods, when a fierce storm forced the crew to cut their anchor cables and pushed the vessel onto York Beach. The vessel was lost, but the crew of four survived.”
The shipwreck photographed in 1958.
Images captured over the decades show the eerie-looking timbers on the beach.
Claesson, who leads drone specialist Nearview Drones, explained that tree-ring dating samples from the wreck were analyzed by Cornell University’s Tree-Ring Laboratory.
“The sampled timbers matched a New England tree-ring index indicating a felling date of 1753. It is assumed that the timbers were used to build the ship shortly after felling,” he told Fox News. “Historical research also revealed an account documenting a sloop called Defiance that wrecked at the York Beach location in 1769.”
Research also revealed a sloop of the same name that was coincidentally built in 1754 in Massachusetts, which fits well the tree-ring dates of around 1753.
“However, additional historical research and archaeological investigations are needed to confirm the identification of the wreck as Defiance,” Claesson said.
The wreck on York beach in Maine.
The wreck is also one of a very few examples of a pre-Revolutionary War or Colonial era ship built in New England, according to the researcher.
“There is still a lot to learn about how exactly these ships were designed and built – ships that were the lifeline for early settlements and were the main vehicles of trade and commerce in New England and the U.S.,” he said. The wreck is also a good indicator of storm events and sea-level rise.
“The wreck was exposed approximately every 20 years between 1958 and 2007, and since then it has been exposed every 5 years,” Claesson explained. “We can expect many more shipwrecks to be exposed on shorelines by storms and rising seas, and there needs to be some urgency in how to protect, manage, and document these sites before they, and a significant part our American history, erodes away.”
A more detailed archaeological investigation is needed to find out how the ship is built and document it for posterity.
Shipwrecks often appear on America’s coasts and lakes. The wrecks of two wooden boats, one of which may be more than 100 years old, were recently uncovered on a beach in northern Florida.
Recent photos also showed a mysterious shipwreck slowly “disappearing” into Lake Michigan.
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