The Great Girona Gold Hunt

Gold Ruby Salamander PendantAnother post in an occasional series on maritime history. Blueprint’s short run may have finished but tonight BBC NI are showing what looks set to be a fascinating programme in the BBC 1 9pm slot – The Great Girona Gold Hunt – and here.

Forty years after discovering the wreck of gold-laden warship from the Spanish Armada on Antrim’s treacherous north coast, Robert Stenuit dives the site again and reveals the intrigue behind the recovery of the greatest haul of Armada treasure ever made. On a wild autumn night in 1588, the warship was wrecked and the Girona lay undiscovered for nearly four centuries, until treasure hunter Robert Stenuit found her wreck site and secretly began to salvage its golden hoard.

That hoard, including the gold and ruby salamander pendant, is on permanent display in the Ulster Museum [when it re-opens – Ed]. The Girona was commanded at the time of the wreck by Don Alonso Martinez de Leiva, Commander Designate of the Armada [pdf file]. The ship was crowded with 1,200-1,300 men when it sank. Producer Roger Ford-Hutchinson provided a equally fascinating background to the making of the programme in the Belfast Telegraph today. Adds Highly recommended, by me anyway, and available on the BBC’s iPlayer.