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The History and Development of English Anchors ca. 1550 to 1850

Harold James Jobling
Thesis: May 1993
Chair: Hamilton
Nautical Archaeology Program


This thesis examines the history and development of the English Admiralty pattern anchor, from ca. 1550 to 1850. The anchor is not necessarily the most essential piece of equipment onboard a vessel, but it is certainly a standard implement of extreme importance. Mariners take the anchor for granted, landlubbers seldom give it a thought, and yet the anchor has become the very symbol of the sea.

Before the beginning of the 16th century, the basic design of the anchor had been fully developed. Little or no gross modification was attained during the following two hundred years, apart from the general increase in anchor size and some minor manufacturing techniques. In the middle of the 19th century, with the increases in the knowledge of iron technology, there were radical changes in the design of anchors. These anchors were different in their design, being stockless anchors made of cast iron, instead of the earlier wrought iron anchors.

This thesis examines the small changes that the anchor underwent, in an attempt to help other researchers date and identify a specific anchor's heritage. The parts of the anchor are described, as well as the terminology involved in anchoring a vessel. The number, weight, and size of anchors for the various sizes of vessels are listed for the time periods.

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