Wooden ribs of an old wrecked ship on Rhossili seashore (1), Gower, South Wales.

Once in a while, an old and un-named shipwreck mysteriously appears and disappears on the shore at Rhossili Bay. Its outline can be traced by the stumpy wooden ribs projecting from the sand. If the sediments shift enough, you can see where the ribs attach to the keel, and just make out some planking nailed to the outer surface of the ribs.

Wooden pegs from the original construction still remain in places, fixing one grainy timber to another. In other parts, orange stains in the slowly rotting wood show where iron nails were later used in repairs. Smooth rounded pebbles in subtle shades of blue, grey, green and pink, rest on this skeleton or are firmly wedged between the ribs.

The whole structure creates an intriguing design of contrasts: with timbers sometimes parallel and sometimes at different angles to each other; the linear ribs, planks and keel against the rounded stones; rough wood against smooth rock and sand; and the tans, browns and beiges of the ship against the yellow sand and multi-coloured pastel pebbles.   

This post was originally published 30th September 2009 and is re-blogged now because the wreck has reappeared again after many years of burial as shown in the post of 16th May 2014.

Wooden ribs of an old wrecked ship on Rhossili seashore (2), Gower, South Wales.


Wooden ribs rising from the keel of an old wrecked ship on Rhossili seashore (3), Gower, South Wales.


Rotting timber of an old wrecked ship on Rhossili seashore (4), Gower, South Wales.


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10 Replies to “Ship’s ribs on Rhossili shore”

  1. Thank you so much. Discovering the wreck was very exciting. Not many other people seem to have noticed it. There is a bigger, more permanent wreck called the Helvetia elsewhere on the beach which normally gets all the visitor attention.


  2. Thanks for mentioning the Helvetia – from the post I thought that she was the wreck that appears and disappears.
    She was very prominent when we spent time on the Gower (many years ago now), but I didn’t know there was another.
    Artistic photos and delicate prose!


  3. Hello, Steve. Thank you for your comments. There have been many wrecks on Rhossili over the years but the Helvetia is such an obvious and dramatic one that it alone features in all the postcards and photos. I am sure that someone has collated the names and dates of the other ships. I have seen an old poster with the position of all the wrecks marked. However, it has proved difficult to discover the name of the one in my photos. Chris Elphick of ‘Welcome to Gower’ blog has written many posts on Gower shipwrecks (see the link in my side bar). Even Chris who has lived in the area all his life cannot yet name this particular one although it features in his shipwreck images.


  4. I’m sure I have seen this wreck too as it’s just past Llangennith on the way to Bury Holms but have only seen it once, There is a very high tide on this coast on Thursday 9th September 2010, This may scour the sand and expose it again. I’m coming down here on 11th September so hope to find some nice beach finds.


  5. Hi, Mike
    I envy you your visit to Gower for the high tides. Hope you find lots of interest at both the high and low tide lines. I have only seen this shipwreck a couple of times. I always look for it but I am rarely rewarded with a sighting – so good hunting to you later this week. The sands shift dramatically on Rhossili beach from tide to tide and across the seasons. The levels of sediment were very deep at the top of the shore last month when I was there.


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