Gun Rocks Media and Meetings


A raised Gun Rock cannon makes it onto the TV
The Gun Rocks cannon in the ITV studio

Over the years, Gun Rocks has been in the media. This began in the 1970’s when ITV did live news reports on the lifting of a cannon from Gun Rocks and subsequent filming in the studio, showing the cannon and other finds.

It would be fantastic if we could have put a link on this page to that original footage, but unfortunately over time, not only has the footage been lost, the cannon has been too. We have inquired as to the whereabouts of the cannon that is shown in the picture, but none of the museums in Newcastle appear to have it inventoried. Maybe it has rusted away with time, or may be it has become a forgotten object at the bottom of someone’s garden.

If anyone is reading this and knows of the whereabouts of the ITV footage, or the cannon, then please do get in contact!

lumley-videoA simple search on YouTube does uncover some Gun Rocks footage. The film is entitled “Gun Rocks Project – Peter Lumley 1979”. The description goes on to say: Shot and edited on film a very painstaking process. Gun Rocks are a part of the Farne Islands on the North East coast of England. To play the video, click on the image.

The film was posted by Ken Crow. We have since managed to get in touch with him, which is great. The Gun Rocks project is now in receipt of a copy of the footage. Ken Crow is part of the NORFED group of divers, and is going to try to contact Peter Lumley, so inquire after the full length movie, as apparently the linked movie here is only part of it. The video was apparently made by Peter Lumley and the members of Bradford BSAC. 

Robson Green in a full face mask

Robson Green’s Tales from Northumberland had a successful first series, which aired on ITV. The producers then started thinking about a second series. They decided that for this new series, they would take the action underwater and record some of the many ship wrecks that are present along the seabed of the northeast coast. As part of their research they contacted Andy Hunt, a member of Tyneside 114, for help in planning which wrecks Robson Green should dive on. Andy was able to advise the film crew and producers and also acted as Robson’s dive buddy.
The filming day arrived and the footage shows two happy divers heading out to the site of Gun Rocks, with Andy explaining that it is an unidentified wreck site which was discovered by Tyneside 114 divers more than 40 years ago. It was first thought that the wreck was a man ‘o’ war from the Spanish Armada as there are lots of cannon which scatter the seabed; however it was finally decided that the ship was most likely a cargo vessel carrying damaged cannon. If you click on the picture of Robson Green, you can see them diving, it starts about 2 minutes in….

Many news outlets also carried the story of Gun Rocks and Robson Green, an example of which can be seen HERE.

The Gun rocks project was also given a full four page spread in the BSAC Scuba Magazine.


Social Events

gun-rocks-flyer-fbOn the 16th March 2015  a social meeting under the guise of “Gun Rocks Revisited was held.

Following on from the Wessex Archaeology survey, with the results and conclusions prepared, an evening event was organised to bring together divers from two different decades, to discuss the past present and future of the Gun Rocks project.

Richard Booth reported on the meeting the full report can be found HERE, and a summary of the event is listed below:

“Over 70 past and present Tyneside members and other guests attended the Gun Rocks presentation evening at the Ravensworth Arms. Indeed a number of attendees had travelled considerable distances for the event with Nic and Linda Ashmore driving up from Weymouth and Andy Hunt from the Isle of Wight.

The event kicked off with Harry Harvey, one of the original Gun Rocks team in the early 1970s giving a personal account of his memories of the project illustrated with some of his photographs from that time.

Participants from Gun Rocks surveys of old and new
Participants from Gun Rocks surveys of old and new

Peta Knott from Wessex Archaeology then presented some of the findings from the most recent survey conducted in 2013 and which involved some of the more recent Tyneside 114 members.

Perhaps one of the most interesting and potentially controversial findings was that some of the cannons appeared to be ‘scrap’ iron, with a number appearing to have blown muzzles.

Was this vessel carrying a cargo of scrap iron cannon from Sweden to the Netherlands, which had been blown off course and wrecked on the Farnes?

We shall probably never find out the truth, but Peta’s talk raised some interesting issues, which threw new light on some of the mysteries that surround this wreck site, as well as raising more questions than answers……

We will just have to undertake more research to see if we can find the answers!


Nic learning photogrammetry on dry land.
Nic learning photogrammetry on dry land.

On Monday 7th November 2016 a second Gun Rocks meeting was held at the Ravensworth Pub. This get together was to update everyone on the work undertaken during 2016, and to ask people to bring any bootee that they have from the site so that it could be photographed. It was a good turn out with about 30 people and with the heating on full blast, it made for a hot evening!!

Peta Knott kicked off the talk:

Earlier in the year Peta and another archaeologist and colleague from Wessex Archaeology, John McCarthy realised they were still keen to continue the work that they’d started with Tyneside 114, back in 2013. As there was no funding for Wessex to help on a commercial footing, they kindly decided to volunteer their time to help. So between Nic, John and Peta a plan was hatched.

Gun Rocks Adventurers 2016
Gun Rocks Adventurers 2016

First May bank holiday weekend we’d all assembled in Seahouses, principally to cut kelp and practice photogrammetry, but due to an issue with the slip way, the whole event had to be cancelled. We therefore came back together on 11-15 July  and get the bulk of the photography done. The week went very well, with lots of volunteers helping us.

Then between August- November Peta  and John undertook the long process of collating and processing of the photos and research material gathered, including talking to various club and former club members. Peta then told us that she had an end goal for the processing of information…. The end of November, to present findings at international maritime archaeology conference in Australia, to tell the world about our wonderful site! Gun Rocks goes international!!

Peter went on to talk about how the two types of cannon which are on the Gun Rocks site, and how they differ:. The two cannon types are: the Finbanker cannon and the John Brown cannon. The difference is all to do with the shape of the cascabel (that is the bit on the opposite end to the muzzle). The John Brown cannon have a smaller button than neck so the cascabel has more of a pyramid shape, rather than the waist-ed shape of the Finbankers, which has a wider button than neck. Once we get permission to use the Wessex imagery they will be illustrated here.

3D Cannon model
3D Cannon model

Peter and John have also been doing more work on the 3D photogrammetry of the cannon photographs, with some now looking quite good. Each cannon takes about 300 good photographs in order to make a model. Each photograph must overlap with its neighboring photograph onat least three sides. the exposure of each image has to be similar too. So we couldn’t use a flash and on days when the sun kept breaking through the cloud it made for a difficult time.

Peter also showed some more models where she and John have placed the cannon on the sea bed topographic model. This clearly shows where the cannon lie, on the shelf adjacent to Gun Rocks, but also the other small group of cannon, which lie in Staple sound.

Following Peta’s talk. Nic (the author of this post!) then talked about the future and what opportunities for funding there are. Bids will be put in to the Maritime Trust, the ongoing Crowd Funding and also a Lottery backed heritage fund. This money will help cover the costs of putting in the gun rocks dive trail, water proof dive maps and some paper leaflets with information for divers and non divers visiting the area. There are so many opportunities, it is all very exciting! Watch this space…..

Cannon which have been subject to photogrammetry.
Cannon which have been subject to photogrammetry.
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