Gun Rocks: history and dive trail
Tyneside 114 has had a close association with Gun Rocks since the late 1960’s, when our Diving Officer (at the time), Mr W.R. Smith (known as Bill), became interested in the history of the cannon and finding out more. Through his enthusiasm, the Gun Rocks Project was born. In 1970 the project was launched, a cannon was raised, ITV filmed a series of news reports on the findings and a report on the findings was produced by Bill Smith.
But questions remained unanswered, such as, what was the origin of the boat, where did all the cannon come from?
In 2010 Andy Hunt Diving Officer (at that time), started the Gun Rocks Project II, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the initial project. One of the aims of the project as to try and identify the name of the wreck and to re-map the cannon locations found in the 1970s. Maps were produced and some artifacts were found.
Following the Gun Rocks II project, in 2013 Wessex Archaeology (WA) was commissioned by Historic England (HE) (previously English Heritage) to undertake an “Designated Site Assessment ” of the site. WA and HE worked closely with Tyneside 114 members, to further uncover the secrets of Gun Rocks. A close working relationship which continues to this day. New cannon were found and the new technique of photogrammetry was used.
As you can see, Tyneside 114’s involvement with Gun Rocks has been ongoing for 46 years now. Nicola Faulks (current Diving Officer) decided to try and sum up all of the work done to date. This resulted in the writing of a report called Gun Rocks Cannon Site. The report won the BSAC Wreck Award 2015. After which it also won the Jubilee Trust Award, which was awarded by Prince William.
The project now has its own website, where all the information is stored on past projects, as well as a blog to keep you up to date with what is still going on. www.gunrocks.co.uk
So where is Gun Rocks?
Well, it is located in a group of islands known as the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland. The closest town is Seahouses, from where you can catch a hard boat or launch a rhib to ride out there.
At 8-10 metres deep and dive-able on slack or a flood tide and as I recently found out (August 2023) diveable on an ebb tide too. So it remains dive-able for a large portion of the time.
It is also relatively well sheltered from the easterly swells, which often prevent diving on our coast.