(NEWSER) – A British historian may have discovered the wreck of one of the four “great ships” built by King Henry V for his war on France six centuries ago, the BBC reports. “These great ships were floating symbols of power and prestige,” Dr. Ian Friel tells the Guardian. “They would have been, and were intended to be, an absolutely awe-inspiring sight.” Friel first noticed what could be the Holigost in an aerial photograph 30 years ago, but he lacked the funding to explore the wreckage, which is buried so deep in river mud that even at low tide all that can be seen is a U-shaped ripple. But heritage group Historic England announced the find Monday in the hopes of preserving the Holigost—if it is the Holigost—for display, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, the Holigost—or Holy Ghost—fought in two major battles that helped Henry conquer parts of France during the Hundred Years’ War. And Henry himself may have sailed in it. At the end of its life, the Holigost sat unused with a single crew member charged with bailing out water every day to keep it from sinking, the Guardian reports. The great ship likely sank when its dock collapsed. Historic England hopes to use drone photography, sonar, and wood dating to verify the wreckage found in the River Hamble as the Holigost. It says further research on the ship could provide valuable information on 15th-century shipbuilding, ship life, naval strategies, and more, according to the BBC. (Henry’s lineage, and thus his claim to the crown, is now in doubt.)
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