Condition assessing the finds from the Earl of Abergavenny
by Portland Museum
The volunteers from our National Lottery funded Diving into the Digital Archives of the Earl of Abergavenny project spent a wonderful day being trained in how to condition assess the finds from the eponymous shipwreck.
Led by NT archaeologist, Nancy Grace, and supported by Peta Knott from NAS, the volunteers spent time looking at a wide variety of objects from the Earl of Abergavenny collection and learning about how to record their condition. This vital part of the museum’s process of bringing new objects into its collection will go a long way towards protecting the integrity of the items in the future for generations to come.
Among the finds from the shipwreck of the Earl of Abergavenny are these gold cufflinks, engraved with the initials JW. Thought to have belonged to the Captain, John Wordsworth, they are some of the most special items in the collection, not just for the beautiful condition they are in but for their direct connection with a major player in the story of the Earl of Abergavenny.
Brother of the poet, William Wordsworth, John Wordsworth was to make a sizeable sum of money from the Earl of Abergavenny’s voyage to Bengal and China, the profits of which, he intended to use to support his family. ‘O pilot! pilot! you have ruined me!’ are the captain’s variously reported words as his ship (through combination of pilot error and adverse wind conditions) was driven onto the Shambles and the realisation of his huge financial loss became apparent.