Following the creation of The Filey Box, additional information has come to light that supports the argument that the famous battle took place off Speeton cliffs in Filey Bay. A report of the battle in an old newspaper reads: ďMr Richard Cappleman relates that his father often spoke of hearing his grandfather say how the ships drifted in with the flowing tide towards Speeton Cliffs and back out with the ebb, cannonading heavily all the timeĒ. If the battle was observed from Filey, the drift of the ships down the Bay would look like the ships were going in and out from the cliffs. The article also relates to anchors being recovered from the area.
Another interesting twist to the story is contained in a report by the Navy survey vessel, HMS Gleaner. In that report there are references to three "boat shaped images" and a small mound in the centre of the area close to the site of the wooden wreck, It can be conjectured that one of these images could be the other half of the existing wooden wreck but only further investigation will establish if this is fact or not.
Clearly there is much further work to be completed and there is an argument for moving the area of the Box further, in the meantime, the publication so far of this Grant aided work has sparked a new interest from various bodies in this exciting twist to the underwater work at Filey.
A new focus on the investigation into the Bonhomme Richard
Following the conclusion of the magnetometer survey work in Filey Bay in conjunction with the investigation into the Bonhomme Richard assisted by public funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a new impetus and direction has been generated in the way the investigation work now proceeds. The Secretary of the Filey Bay Initiative confirmed this in an interview with the press in September 2010 which he stated that during previous seasons, nearly 5000 readings indicating the possible presence of metal objects have been located in the search corridor (The Filey Box).
It was documented that after the fight between the Bonhomme Richard and Serapis, Commodore John Paul Jones jettisoned guns and equipment from the Richard to lighten her. When the vessel sank, it is conjectured that material from her would be scattered along the sea bottom, leaving a possible debris trail, particularly if the wooden hull moved along with the tide before it finally settled into the sediment on the seabed.
Other organisations have run sophisticated computer models that conclude that the Bonhomme Richard sank many miles from Filey. In an interview with the National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Adams says "A ship that gets into trouble off Flamborough Head will drift into Filey every time, anybody around here can tell you that. We know how the tides work. We have to. After all, itís our livelihood, and in real life they just donít flow the way those computer models say they do." This local knowledge is a powerful indication as to where the vessel may have finally come to rest.
The location of the wreck in Filey Bay is supported by a new evaluation of the track of a known object that was cast adrift in the Bay with wind conditions similar to those at the time of the loss of the Bonhomme Richard. The object subsequently travelled northwards along the coastline and did not drift offshore as had been expected. A plan of the drift pattern of the object is to be published here.
The area to the offside Filey Bay that has previously been identified by others as the possible resting place for the Bonhomme Richard is one of the most heavily trawled areas on the north east coast of England. If a substantial wooden wreck had been present then is likely that its location would be well known to the local fishermen. The wreck could be there of course but if it is it is likely to be buried below the level of the seabed sediments.
The wooden hull in Filey Bay came to rest close to "hard ground" or rocks and a difficult seabed that made trawling difficult. Although there had been indications that a wooden wreck was present at that location. the area had been avoided due to the rock and obstructions in the form of anchors on the seabed. As trawling gear and the boats became more powerful, the anchors were removed and it was only a matter of time before the trawlers found the wooden hull which led to its first investigation.
In the light of this knowledge, an interesting area of seabed of approximately four and a half square miles in Filey Bay was informally identified and is termed The Filey Box. This area extends southwards from the present site of the wooden wreck in Filey Bay and follows the tidal direction back towards the possible site of the battle or sinking . Within this area preliminary readings by a magnetometer indicated the presence of ferrous metal. The Filey Box is in open water with no restrictions of access to the public, unlike the wooden wreck which is the subject of a Protection of Wrecks (Designation) order 2002. The area of the Filey Box is not a definitive area of search, but was constructed as a reasonable area in which to work based upon information available at the time. This area encompasses several ship's anchors laid in a line (or drift pattern) that are present, or had been present in the area at one time. In addition, more wooden wreckage has been reported in the locality. A limited survey by the Archaeological Dive Unit some years previously identified possible presence of artefactual evidence that may or may not be connected to the wooden wreck at the southern end of the Box. Other preliminary investigations by HMS Gleaner, which are in the public domain have proved that some features in some form or another are present in the area of the protected wreck site.