Tyne and Wear HER(4672): South Shields, Herd Sand, possible Roman Shipwreck - Details
South Shields, Herd Sand, possible Roman Shipwreck
It is possible that a Roman shipwreck lies off the Herd Sand, but there is no conclusive evidence for this. Over the last 150 years many coins (e.g. HER ref. 908) (64 coins up to 2001) and other objects, Roman and Medieval (HER ref. 911-13, 927, 928, 936, 929), have been found on the beach. These may have come from wrecks, or dredged from the river bed at Newcastle and redeposited at the river mouth. The objects could also have been dumped here in ships' ballast. Another possibility is that they were deposited for ritual purposes. Factors in favour of the shipwreck theory include the fact that a Roman patera found in the 1880s was said to have been found in the "wreckage of a sailing ship". Around the same time, Robert Blair, a local antiquary, recalled having seen the remains of a small ship to the east of Salmon's ballast hill (i.e. on Herd Sand). Reports of shipwrecks in this area were frequent in 17th century, and there are references to wrecks here as early as 1195. Arguments against the theory that the objects were brought here from dredging material or ballast are that the objects do not display the degree of wear you would expect from something washed in from the far out to sea. The coins found on the Herd Sand are mostly silver denarii, and most were issued between the reigns of Nero and Marcus Aurelius (1st & 2nd centuries A.D.). It has been suggestd, therefore, that the coins could represent a hoard, perhaps savings in transit which, with the other finds, came from a ship carrying a soldier of legio VIII Augusta (inscribed on the shield-boss) which was wrecked while entering the Tyne.
<< HER 4672 >> P. Bidwell, 2001, A Probable Roman Shipwreck on the Herd Sand at South Shields, The Arbeia Journal, Vol 6-7, 1997-98 (2001), p 1-23 R.C Bosanquet & I.A. Richmond, 1936, A Roman Skillet from South Shields, Archaeologia Aeliana, series 4, 13, p 139 R. Blair, 1886, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, 2, 2 (1885-6) P 334