Western Ledge Reef Wreck: The Analysis and Reconstruction of the Late 16th-Century Ship of the Spanish Empire
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The Western Ledge Reef Wreck, discovered and later excavated in Bermuda between 1989 and 1991, is a prime example of Iberian shipbuilding within a broader Atlantic context. Operating during the late 16th-century, arguably one of the most fascinating periods of Spanish maritime history, the ship epitomizes the culture and technology identified with the celebrated fleets of the Carrera de Indias. By combining the new and previously unavailable data with that of the original reports, this dissertation outlines the structural details of this small utilitarian vessel which plowed the Atlantic Ocean between Spain and the Spanish America. Regarded as one of the better preserved Iberian shipwrecks in the New World, the hull timbers were disassembled and raised to the surface for detailed recording and analysis; the most comprehensive being the study and reconstruction presented in this dissertation. This data not only illustrates the transition from late medieval ship construction founded on the unempirical and intuitive style of local shipwrights to that of the geometrically- and scientific-rooted Renaissance design philosophy, but also to a frame-led assembly sequence. The hull remains and associated cultural material excavated from the site prove to be an important 16th- and 17th-century collection of Spanish and New World origin, which collectively reinforce the notion that the Western Ledge Reef Wreck was on its homebound course when it sunk among treacherous Bermuda reefs sometime between 1560 and 1600.
Bojakowski, Piotr (2012). Western Ledge Reef Wreck: The Analysis and Reconstruction of the Late 16th-Century Ship of the Spanish Empire. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from