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La Trinidad Valencera – An Armada Exhibition (Derry)

This good practice demonstrates a strong example of historical site identification and involvement of stakeholders.  La Trinidad Valencera – An Armada Shipwreck is a Permanent exhibition highlighting the history of the Spanish Armada and the archaeological discovery and recovery of artefacts from La Trinidad Valencera off the coast of Donegal. Photo: © Derry City Museum.

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Overview

In the early 1970's the City of Derry Sub-Aqua Club was instrumental in discovering and having excavated the important Spanish Armada ship, La Trinidad Valencera. The excavation was a model of its kind, introducing many innovations to underwater archaeology Professional archaeologists were brought in to supervise the local divers, particularly Dr. Colin Martin, and the BBC through its "Chronicle" programme unit supported and recorded the project. The excavation ran into many unforeseen difficulties, not the least of which were the trans-national problems arising from the ship's location in Republic of Ireland waters.
Eventually the site's legal matters were resolved and the recovered objects were sold by the Irish government for a peppercorn price to the Ulster Museum which had played an extremely important role in the project, particularly in the area of conservation. These objects had a particularly important place in the major exhibitions at Greenwich and Belfast in 1988 marking the four hundredth anniversary of the Armada.

One of the conditions of the sale to the Ulster Museum was that the objects would be displayed in Derry when suitable premises became available. All the parties agreed that the Tower Museum, after some modification, would make an excellent home for these objects to give a stronger international element to the more local ‘Story of Derry’ exhibition currently on display.

 Identify Historical Sites

La Trinidad Valencera was discovered in Kinnagoe Bay, on the North East Coast of the Inishowen Peninsula. The bay itself is surrounded by high cliffs, with the wreck located about 20 meters from the low tide mark. The wreck is in very poor condition and is mostly buried by sand. There is some interpretation on the site in the form of information panels, but there is scope to develop a virtual recreation of the voyage of the vessel from Venice to Spain, around Scotland, Ireland to its wreck location. We know further that the survivors made their way down through the peninsula where most were killed in an exchange with English troops outside Burt Castle, another historic landmark at the foot of Inishowen.

Involve Stakeholders

Similar to the Laurentic Project, the involvement of local divers, and in particular the City of Derry Sub Aqua Club, was crucial in ensuring the success of the exhibition. A further addition in relation for them was the donation of their original equipment as the story of finding the wreck and the trails of excavating it appeared to be of equal interest to visitors and the local populace as the Story of the Armada itself. The diving clubs and divers also helped with the programming of events, from in-depth talks to workshops, suitable for a variety of ages to promote the project. Their input in the project brought a scientific exploratory angle which garnered further interest from the public. 

Region
Derry & Strabane
Keywords
Derry, Spanish Armada, Shipwreck, Stakholders, Business Case, Exhibition
Service Provider
Derry City & Strabane District Council


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