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Oriel SCR member Robert McNulty Studying Artifacts from The Gloucester Shipwreck

SCR member Robert McNulty is a postdoctoral research associate in the underwater archaeology division of the Oxford Institute of Archaeology. His research focuses on the study of artefacts recovered from shipwrecks, and in particular glass bottles of the 17th and 18th centuries discovered in Nordic and Baltic waters.

He has been appointed to research and develop a chronology of bottle design-dating, similar to existing research into English bottles and his previous dating of Dutch 17th and 18th century bottle designs. Such artefacts could help to establish the dating range of the ship sinking on wrecks found of unknown date, as bottle shapes changed a great deal from 1650 to 1800.

He is also an authority on Dutch and English ‘bottle’ shapes dating from 1650 to 1800.

Robert explains his recent discovery mentioned in The New York Times:

Recently, a very important shipwreck was located that sank in 1682, The Gloucester. It had an important passenger – James Stuart, Duke of York, who later became King James II in 1688.

Artefacts from the wreck have been salvaged, including many glass bottles. Senior researchers’ who were part of the team studying the wreck raised the point that if any bottles on the wreck were French, then the Duke would have been breaking the then-ban on such imports from a Catholic county.  Robert McNulty is involved in studying the artefacts and says of his work: “The future king was a lover of fine wines and might have been breaking the import law. I was able to locate a French Wine bottle excavated in Quebec City, Canada (then a French colony) dated 1682 to compare it to the wine bottles from the Gloucester wreck. We will see if the future King was a ’smuggler’”.

Robert is examining the artefacts of the shipwreck alongside a team from the University of East Anglia.

Formerly an archaeologist, Robert is the founder of Partners for Liveable Communities (formerly Partners for Liveable Places), the first organisation of its type in America. He also taught for seven years at the Centre for the Environment at the University of Oxford and is a Visiting Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Population Aging.