Legal fight over HMS Victory excavation

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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ARCHAEOLOGISTS are mounting a legal fight against the Ministry of Defence over the deal to allow a US company to excavate an 18th-century warship which sank with a potentially lucrative cargo.

HMS Victory, which sank in the English Channel in 1744, is thought to contain gold and silver worth millions of pounds.

Campaigners, including Lord Renfrew, are consulting lawyers over the deal to allow Odyssey Marine Exploration to take a cut of the value of the artefacts it retrieves.

Two bronze guns have already been recovered from the wreck and sold to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth in a deal funded by the MoD.

An Odyssey spokeswoman said it is working with representatives from the MoD and English Heritage ‘to ensure that best archaeological practices are adopted’.

Victory, a 100-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, was a forerunner to Admiral Nelson’s famous flagship of the same name which is open to visitors in Portsmouth.