DIVERS are to explore the region’s most famous shipwreck to help decide whether it should be given protected status.

The wreck of the paddle steamer Forfarshire, which sank off the coast of Northumberland in 1838 and whose survivors were famously rescued by teenage heroine Grace Darling, is to be investigated over the summer.

English Heritage has announced that 88 shipwrecks around the British coast dating back before 1840 are to be investigated by a team of archaeological divers over the next few months.

Loading article content

The divers will submit a full report on all the sites investigated to date to English Heritage who will determine which wrecks, if any, are deemed to be nationally important.

Those that meet the criteria will be recommended in a shortlist to Government in the autumn.

Mark Dunkley, Maritime Designation Adviser for English Heritage said: "This is part of a wider programme to ensure that current or future threats to the most important early wrecks are reduced through designation.

"We want to help ensure that future generations can understand and value these important sites."

At present, 47 historic boats and ships in England are protected from unauthorised interference.