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HER Number:MDV9872
Name:Cannon from Church Rocks Wreck


Six bronze cannon have been found to date in association with the Church Rocks wreck - a saker, two minions and three swivel guns. The saker and minions bear a shield and the initials SA, the Venetian gunfounder Sigismondo Alberghetti. The swivel guns are also probably Venetian in provenance.


Grid Reference:SX 947 732
Map Sheet:SX97SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTeignmouth
Ecclesiastical ParishOFFSHORE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX97SW/30/1
  • Tide Project: 16/07/2020

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CANNON (XVI to Post Medieval - 1501 AD to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Unknown, 1977, Scrapbook 2, 3, 11 (Article in Serial). SDV303415.

Unknown, 1977, Unknown, 2 (Article in Serial). SDV303416.

Devon County Council, 1978, Archaeology in Devon: News of Recent Excavations (Leaflet). SDV354892.

Bronze cannon discovered on the seabed off Teignmouth. The cannon were made about 1600 and may have come from the wreck of a ship that took part in the Spanish Armada.

Teignmouth Museum and Historical Society, 1978, The Sixteenth Century Wreck off Church Rocks, East Teignmouth, Devon (Monograph). SDV303369.

Rule, M., 1979, Church Rocks, Teignmouth, Post-Medieval Wreck Site (Article in Serial). SDV355005.

Unknown, 1981, Dragging up a Shot from the Past (Article in Serial). SDV303411.

A finely detailed 16th century swivel cannon. The fourth to be recovered from the wreck, and in much better condition than the other three. Complete with breech block and gunpowder in the barrel.

Burton, S., 1982, Discovery of Teignmouth Treasure, 14-16 (Article in Serial). SDV303487.

Five cannon have been found on this site between 1975 and 1981. The saker was found in 1975 and sold at auction for $7000 in 1977. A swivel gun (or great base) and a minion gun were found in 1977. Another iron and bronze swivel gun was found in 1980 and another minion gun, 2.74m in length, in 1981. This minion gun had on its muzzle the same coat of arms as was on the saker. Other details: Photos.

Unknown, 1982, Unknown, 1 (Article in Serial). SDV303370.

Six cannon have been found to date.

Express & Echo, 1986, Elizabethan Cannon Found off Teignmouth (Article in Serial). SDV354785.

The barrel of the bronze saker gun was discovered by a local diver in 1976, and has been restored at Totnes.

Dudley, E. R., 1987, Artefact (Historic Shipwreck Site), Photos + Drawing (Worksheet). SDV322473.

Two coloured photos of Alberghetti crest on saker together with photocopy of scale drawing. See worksheet for details.

Dudley, E. R., 1987, Unidentified Artefacts 10 (Article in Serial). SDV351986.

A bronze saker was found at Teignmouth in 1976. On the barrel was a shield, but efforts to identify it have so far been unsuccessful.

Teignmouth Museum and Historical Society, 1988, Wreck on Church Rocks, Teignmouth, Devon (Monograph). SDV322579.

Dudley, E. R., 1989, Alberghetti Guns (Article in Serial). SDV351987.

Drawing of the Alberghetti saker found on the Church Rocks site, Teignmouth, and now displayed in Pendennis Castle at the mouth of the River Fal.

Wilson, V., 1993, Burton's Bounty (Monograph). SDV303423.

Preece, C. + Burton, S., 1993, Church Rocks, 1975-83: A Reassessment, 257-265 (Article in Serial). SDV303421.

Six guns have been recovered to date; a saker, two minions and three swivels.

Ruddick, M., 1996, Personal comment to A. M. Dick (Personal Comment). SDV303422.

The saker is now at Pendennis, where it was, until recently, used to give firing displays. The carriage of the minion is undergoing conservation by the Mary Rose Trust.

Taylor, T., 1996, Teignmouth, Devon (Article in Monograph). SDV362754.

Background research on the cannons was undertaken as part of the Time Team programme. It is suggested that the shields on the cannon, previously listed as unidentified, represent a number of Venetian merchants who had invested in the ship and that, therefore, it was not possible to give an absolute date.

Allan, J. + Timms, S. C., 1996, Treasures of Ancient Devon, 42 (Monograph). SDV322592.

One of the two minions recovered from the wreck, 2.74m long, decorated with a shield and the initials 'S.A.'. These initials have been linked to Sigismundo Alberghetti, whose family operated a foundry in Venice in the 16th century. The same initials are found on the second minion and on a saker which is displayed by English Heritage at St. Mawes Castle in Cornwall. Other details: Photo.

Preece, C., 2004, Evidence for High Status as Sea: The Church Rocks Wreck, 101-104 (Article in Serial). SDV322472.

The saker bears a coat of arms divided into a half and two quarters. It has been suggested that the shield may be a composite and that one interest represented may be the Badoer family, whose crest is a lion rampant (discernible in the right half) and an eight-spoked wheel (possibly in the lower left quarter). The two minions are almost identical apart from one small decorative difference on the foliated shields. Both they and the saker carry the initials SA and it is suggested, based on stylistic and typological comparison, that the Church Rocks guns were the work of Sigismondo II, chief founder at Venice from 1582 until 1601. The three swivel guns are virtually identical and probably also have a Venetian provenance.

Ruddock, M. + Watson, L., 2006+, The 16th Century Church Rocks Wreck at Teignmouth (Un-published). SDV363873.

Six bronze guns were recovered from the wreck between 1975 and 1982; a saker, two minions and three swivel guns. The saker and minions bear the crest and initials of Sigismundo Alberghetti, owner of a Venetian foundry. The swivel guns are also thought to have come from the Alberghetti foundry.
One of the minions and a swivel gun are in Teignmouth Museum, the remainder are in private collections, one in Pendennis Castle, Cornwall.
The gun carriage from the the first minion found in 1977, a wooden tampion or muzzle plug from a minion and iron breech blocks and a bronze bearing from a swivel gun have also been found.
See report for full details of the guns.

Panter, I., 2011, Conservation report for the artefacts and guns from the Church Rocks Wreck (Report - Scientific). SDV363874.

The swivel gun in Teignmouth museum has been conserved by the York Archaeological Trust. Conservation work has also been carried out on a cheek timber from a gun carriage of one of the minion guns.

SMR, Unknown, Untitled Source (Unattributed Sites and Monuments Register Entry). SDV358991.

16th century bronze cannon, found by Simon Burton, which led to the discovery of a wreck, thought to be the San Salvador, an Armada pay ship, sunk in 1588. The cannon was auctioned for $7.000. In 1975 a schoolboy discovered a huge bronze and iron cannon (saker), with the makers marks, SA, in remarkably good condition. It was in 3m of water off Teignmouth beach. Later, a second gun was raised, and a third found with pieces of wood attached (timbers of a gun carriage). The Nautical Archaeology Trust carried out a survey and recovered the gun complete with side pieces and cross members of the carriage. The cannon, or saker was made of bronze, and came from Venice. The initials SA indicate Sigismondo Alberghetti. The coat of arms is a crest of fleur de lys and eagles heads. Shield with quarterings-dexter a lion rampant. Sinister upper an unidentified object, sinister lower a rose or cartwheel. Not identified. It was 3.58m long and had a 98mm bore. It was a muzzle loader and its purpose was a ship smasher. It fired a 6lbs(2.72kg) iron ball. The point blank range was 274m and the maximum distance was 1280m. The second gun to be found has a bronze barrel, and a cast iron breech and chamber. It is known as a great base or an esmeril largos, and is a close quarter weapon. It has a 92mm bore and fires a 907gm stone ball or a cluster of lead bullets. It has a quick firing breech loader with separate chambers. It was used as a mankiller and boarder repeller. It has no coat of arms but has ten sun motifs on the barrel muzzle end, with four lion heads on the breech end. The third gun a minion or a culebra cuartos, is a muzzle loader and has a 76mm bore which fires a 4lbs (1.81kg) iron ball. Its range is from 247m to 1225m maximum distance. The gun is bronze and is 2.74m in length. It comes from venice, the crest is as on the saker but escutcheon plain with no quarterings. Not identified. Used as a ship smasher. When salvaged the minion still incorporated most of its wooden gun carriage. This has been visually reconstructed and proves to be of a type coming into common use about 1550 and continuing for perhaps 100 years. In about 1980 another cannon was recovered. This was in excellent condition complete with breech block with gunpowder still in the barrel.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV303369Monograph: Teignmouth Museum and Historical Society. 1978. The Sixteenth Century Wreck off Church Rocks, East Teignmouth, Devon. The Sixteenth Century Wreck off Church Rocks, East Teignmouth, Devon. Unknown.
SDV303370Article in Serial: Unknown. 1982. Unknown. Western Morning News. Unknown. 1.
SDV303411Article in Serial: Unknown. 1981. Dragging up a Shot from the Past. Western Morning News. Photocopy + Digital.
SDV303415Article in Serial: Unknown. 1977. Scrapbook 2. Western Morning News. 3, 11.
SDV303416Article in Serial: Unknown. 1977. Unknown. NAT News. 4. Unknown. 2.
SDV303421Article in Serial: Preece, C. + Burton, S.. 1993. Church Rocks, 1975-83: A Reassessment. The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploratio. 22.3. A4 Stapled + Digital. 257-265.
SDV303422Personal Comment: Ruddick, M.. 1996. Personal comment to A. M. Dick. Not Applicable.
SDV303423Monograph: Wilson, V.. 1993. Burton's Bounty. Teignmouth Collector Series. 1. Unknown.
SDV303487Article in Serial: Burton, S.. 1982. Discovery of Teignmouth Treasure. Devon Life. 189. Unknown. 14-16.
SDV322472Article in Serial: Preece, C.. 2004. Evidence for High Status as Sea: The Church Rocks Wreck. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 62. Paperback Volume. 101-104.
SDV322473Worksheet: Dudley, E. R.. 1987. Artefact (Historic Shipwreck Site). Worksheet + Digital. Photos + Drawing.
SDV322579Monograph: Teignmouth Museum and Historical Society. 1988. Wreck on Church Rocks, Teignmouth, Devon. Wreck on Church Rocks, Teignmouth, Devon. Unknown.
SDV322592Monograph: Allan, J. + Timms, S. C.. 1996. Treasures of Ancient Devon. Treasures of Ancient Devon. Paperback Volume. 42.
SDV351986Article in Serial: Dudley, E. R.. 1987. Unidentified Artefacts 10. The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploratio. 16.3. Hardcopy + Digital.
SDV351987Article in Serial: Dudley, E. R.. 1989. Alberghetti Guns. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. 18.3. Hardcopy + Digital.
SDV354785Article in Serial: Express & Echo. 1986. Elizabethan Cannon Found off Teignmouth. Express & Echo. Photocopy + Digital.
SDV354892Leaflet: Devon County Council. 1978. Archaeology in Devon: News of Recent Excavations. A2 Folded + Digital.
Linked images:3
SDV355005Article in Serial: Rule, M.. 1979. Church Rocks, Teignmouth, Post-Medieval Wreck Site. Archaeology in Devon 1978. A5 Paperback.
SDV358991Unattributed Sites and Monuments Register Entry: SMR. Unknown. Digital.
SDV362754Article in Monograph: Taylor, T.. 1996. Teignmouth, Devon. Time Team 96. The Site Reports. Digital.
SDV363873Un-published: Ruddock, M. + Watson, L.. 2006+. The 16th Century Church Rocks Wreck at Teignmouth. Digital.
SDV363874Report - Scientific: Panter, I.. 2011. Conservation report for the artefacts and guns from the Church Rocks Wreck. York Archaeological Trust. 2011/16. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV9871Part of: Church Rocks Wreck (Monument)
MDV9873Related to: Cannon balls found in association with Church Rocks Wreck (Find Spot)

Associated Finds

  • FDV413 - CANNON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1750 AD)

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Oct 2 2020 4:50PM