Object Type Anchor
Material Stone - granite
Description Stone anchor, single hole
Length 360mm
Width 280mm
Height 100mm
Weight 15kg
Condition Good
Completeness 100 %
Number of items 1
Location Description West of Erme Estuary
Seabed type Rock and fine sand

Stone Anchor (10A11)

This stone anchor was recovered from west of the Erme Estuary where it was found with a number of others. This anchor is made from granite and the hole through it shows pecking tool marks as if it had been made using a small pointed chisel.

The anchor is what Honor Frost describes as a 'rock anchor', a simple stone weight anchor which would hold on a rocky seabed, with a single hole pierced for a rope. However, this one is likely to be a 'sinking stone' used in the smuggling trade because of its small size and where it was found.

One method to avoid capture of a smuggled cargo when the coast was patrolled was to sink the kegs of brandy or gin, known as 'sowing the crop'. A whole 'crop' was attached to a rope that was weighted by stones and fastened at both ends to an anchor, see image below. Initially, when a smuggling vessel saw no chance of landing its cargo, it sank it and fixed it with the anchors, the men on land received the bearings of the crop so it could be fished up later. This developed later on to be the main way of getting smuggled cargoes to the men on shore.

Smuggling was not considered to be a crime or a sin in many of the coastal villages:

'Not that a Christian man has aught to be ashamed of in landing a cask of good liquor, for we read that when Israel came out of Egypt, the chosen people were bid trick their oppressors out of jewels of silver and jewels of gold; and among those cruel taskmasters, some of the worst must certainly have been the tax-gatherers.' - Master Ratsey, Moonfleet

This anchor was reported to the Receiver of Wreck with droit No. 316/10 and deposited with the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery in November 2010 with Entry No. 2105.

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10A11 dwg
Smuggler stone anchor


Found with 10A14, 10A13, 10A01, see also 09A14, 09A20, 10A12, 10A16, 11A01, 11A19, 12A01

Pireates and Smugglers

A famous smuggling craft

Smuggling in and around Burton Bradstock

Curryer B., 1999, Anchors, an Illustrated History, Chatham Publishing, London, ISBN 1 86176 080 9

Frost H., 1997, Stone Anchors, the need for methodological recording, Indian Journal of History of Science 32 (2)

Meade Falkner J., 1898, Moonfleet

Nun M., 1993, Ancient Stone Anchors and Net Sinkers from the Sea of Galilee, Kibbutz Ein Gev,

PortCities London - Roman stone anchor