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Massive "grave slabs" recovered from UK's oldest shipwreck

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New Titanic scans give insight into iconic shipwreck's sinking 00:45

Maritime archaeologists have recovered several grave markers from the United Kingdom's oldest shipwreck. 

The Mortar Wreck, named for its collection of marble mortars found aboard, was discovered off the coast of Dorset, England in 2020 and granted protected status in 2022. 

Researchers have already brought items including pottery and kitchen objects above the surface, but a recent expedition by a team from England's Bournemouth University recovered multiple carved grave slabs and stone mortars made for grinding flour, CBS partner BBC News reported

A grave slab being lifted from Poole Bay. Bournemouth University Maritime Archaeology

Dr. Derek Pitman, the head of archaeology at Bournemouth University, told BBC News that the 13th-century wreck was "really well preserved." He believes the ship, which had a "relatively large cargo," hit choppy waters as it was departing from Dorset's Poole Harbor. 

The stone found aboard the ship was likely brought from southern England to Dorset, where it was loaded aboard. For centuries, the items remained at the bottom of Poole Bay.

"It was full of stone mortars and burial slabs. I've never seen anything like it," Pitman told the BBC.

Raising the stone slabs required a "monstrous barge," Pitman said. The "huge crates" were lifted onto the barge. Photos and videos from the operation show divers using machinery to lift the heavy slabs, which would have covered gravestones. 

They and the mortars brought up from the wreck will undergo conservation work, according to the BBC, and be put on display at the Poole Museum. 

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