Straight Compass


Navigation dividers were used for a variety of purposes aboard ship including picking off a course on a chart, two types of dividers were recovered from the Swash Channel Wreck.  These dividers are described by Aubin (1702, p. 248) as straight compasses used by carpenters and pilots.

Three fragments of this type were found on the wreck, SCW366, 903 and 186 however SCW186 and SCW903 may be parts of the same compass. The dividers are all cast in brass (c. 20% Zinc 2% Lead) and two retain their ball-hinge mechanism and punched rim-and-dot decoration, common features of such objects found on Dutch East India Company (VOC) wrecks, with a large collection of this type was found on the Lastdrager 1653  thought to be packed onboard as trade goods. SCW186 and 366 both feature a makers stamp in the form of a shield topped this the initials OVS .

SCW186 comprised the arm of a brass divider with its scarfed (overlapping) unleaded brass point containing a higher percentage of Zinc (30%), the base of the makers stamp can be seen on this artefact.