A step towards solving a maritime mystery

Apr 23, 2012

Students from Flinders University believe they have discovered the exact location of a Scottish sailing ship which sank in waters off Kangaroo Island more than 100 years ago.

A group of four archaeology students searched the sea and land on Kangaroo Island’s west coast earlier this month in a bid to find the historic Loch Sloy and the burial sites of 11 bodies recovered from the sea when the barque, en-route from Glasgow to Port Adelaide, sank on April 24, 1899.

Records show 30 people, including the captain, six passengers and most crewmen, died when the ship ran into rocky waters while heading towards the Cape Borda lighthouse.

There were four survivors, one of whom died after reaching land, but the exact location of the shipwreck and the bodies recovered from the waters, except for one, has remained a mystery.

During the week-long field trip – led by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Maritime Archaeologist and Flinders graduate Amer Khan – the team excavated an area between Cape Borda and Cape du Couedic in the hope of finding any remnants from the tragic incident.

Flinders archaeology masters student Lynda Bignell said the researchers believed they had found the exact position of the wreck, using a magnetometer.

“Historically the whereabouts of the ship has been roughly documented but we used a special maritime metal detector at that location and it came up with a high reading, indicating that something is definitely down there,” Ms. Bignell said.

“It’s quite exciting because we originally went out there to look mainly for the graves, the search for the shipwreck was just one part of our extensive research into the incident.

“We’ve been researching the Loch Sloy and the graves since last October, and we staged a preliminary trip in December, so it’s great to see that work is paying off.”

While the expedition primarily hoped to unearth the graves of those who died in the sinking, Ms. Bignell said the team had no luck finding any burial sites.

“The site we thought had a good chance of being a grave actually wasn’t,” she said.

“Excavation of the site went down to the bedrock and didn’t find anything but it was a good experience for the students involved.”

Ms. Bignell said the team hoped to return to Kangaroo Island later this year to find the shipwreck, although no definite plans had been made yet.

She said the ship was an important part of South Australia’s maritime history.

“The Loch Sloy is one of four historic shipwrecks on the west coast of Kangaroo Island and between those four ships 82 people lost their lives, making the stretch of coast one of the most treacherous in SA,” she said.

“Yet the Loch Sloy was particularly important because public opinion after the incident resulted in the construction of another lighthouse at Cape de Couedic.”

Ms. Bignell also thanked the community for their enthusiasm and participation.

Explore further: Ancient shark fossil reveals new insights into jaw evolution

Provided by Flinders University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Shipwreck to give up its history

Apr 11, 2012

The secrets of the deep will be uncovered when archaeologists excavate a significant colonial shipwreck in Victoria's Port Phillip Bay later this month. 

Prehistoric bird found in fossil treasure

Aug 15, 2011

A Flinders University-led expedition involving the WA Museum has found the fossilised remains of a prehistoric bird, possibly a wedge-tailed eagle, in a cave on the Nullarbor Plain. The bird is more than 780,000 years old.

Wheat bacteria may ward off plant disease

Apr 03, 2012

A Flinders University researcher is digging deep to discover how certain bacterial strains found in wheat can stimulate a plant’s natural defence fighting mechanisms.

Researchers unlock key to iron-rich rice

Sep 23, 2011

On the back of a groundbreaking scientific discovery, researchers from Flinders University are pushing ahead with a plan to create super-rice that could potentially combat nutrient deficiencies in third-world countries.

Recommended for you

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

Apr 14, 2014

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Serbia experts use heavy machinery to move mammoth

Apr 11, 2014

Serbian archaeologists on Friday used heavy machinery to move a female mammoth skeleton—believed to be one million years old—from an open mine pit where it was unearthed nearly five years ago.

User comments : 0

More news stories

HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

HIV-positive women respond well to a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), even when their immune system is struggling, according to newly published results of an international clinical trial. The study's findings ...