NELSON enthusiasts are celebrating a ‘significant find’ after divers discovered what they believe to be a sword belonging to the naval hero in a Mediterranean shipwreck.
The sword is among what is being called a ‘treasure trove’ of Nelson artefacts which were on board HMS Victoria when it sank 88 years after the famous admiral’s death aboard HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Victoria’s captain Vice Admiral George Tryon – who went down with his ship in 1893 after a disastrous manoeuvre – was rumoured to have had on board with him a collection of Lord Nelson’s personal effects that he’d bought at auction.
Mark Ellyatt, a British diver from the team who discovered the wreck of Victoria off the coast of Lebanon, has located Tryon’s cabin and an adjoining cupboard, which he described as being ‘like a shrine’ to Nelson.
The find has led to interest from the Ministry of Defence, which has legal ownership of the wreck, and the 1805 Club – a society of Nelson enthusiasts whose members include Nelson’s descendents.
Peter Warwick, chairman of the 1805 Club, told The News: ‘Obviously one has to respect this warship and be aware of tampering with it, but if there is a sword down there that belonged to Nelson it would be a great find. I can’t wait to find out more about it and what condition it is in. If it turns out to be authentic, it would be a significant find. We will be following this very closely for any further information.’
The value of the sword has been estimated at between £500,000 and £1m if it can be proved to be genuine.
Mr Ellyatt, who claims he’s hidden the artefact in the wreck for safekeeping from looters, said he wanted it to end up in a British museum.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘The Royal Navy would welcome any information relating to Admiral Lord Nelson.’