One of the most important maritime discoveries in England

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London, June 16 : Archaeologists have recovered a treasure trove of artifacts from a late 16th century shipwreck in the UK, which is being described as one of the most important maritime discoveries in England since the Mary Rose.

The wreck, discovered 30 years ago, is situated off the coast of Alderney.

"This boat is really grade A in terms of archaeology. It is hard to find anything that really compares with it," said Dr Mensun Bound, excavation leader and marine archaeologist from Oxford University.

According to a report in BBC News, the raised haul includes a 2m-long (7ft) cannon, which will give archaeologists an insight into Elizabeth I's naval might.

Recovering the cannon was a delicate operation; divers had to navigate through reef-strewn waters where strong currents prevailed.

"The cannon is in perfect condition - nothing has broken - it has an intact hand grenade, part of its carriage system is in place, there is the barrel of a gun or a sword on one side," said Dr Bound. "We cannot wait to get a closer look at it once it has been cleaned up," he added.

The team hopes to raise another cannon in the coming days.

As well as the cannon, the team has also recovered many more objects, including a musket, a soldier's breastplate and an intact navigational calendar.

These join a large collection of artifacts, including another cannon, raised from another dive in the early 1990s.

Experts believe the Alderney warship and its contents will help shed light on a key point of England's naval history.

The boat is thought to have sunk in 1592, possibly after an encounter with one of the area's many reefs. Just four years earlier, Elizabeth's navy had defeated the Spanish Armada and was embarking on expeditions that would exert its maritime and territorial domination around the world.

According to Dr Bound, "The wreck illuminates a time when England was fighting for its very survival - the world was at war, the Catholic south was fighting the Protestant north."

By looking at artifacts such as the raised cannons, the team hopes to discover just how advanced the British navy really was.

"We hope they will demonstrate that this ship was carrying our first uniform, co-ordinated weapons system," Dr Bound explained.

"We think that here we have a standardised weapons system here; the guns are all the same type, the same materials, the same technology, the same caliber," he added.

"It is a different type of navy, it is a more professional navy. We have here the beginnings of broadside naval warfare," according to Dr Bound.

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