A unique history of killing seas, false lights and plundered shipwrecks.
From the bestselling author of 'The Lighthouse Stevensons', a gripping history of the drama and danger of wrecking since the eighteenth century - and the often grisly ingenuity of British wreckers, scavengers of the sea.
A fine wreck has always represented sport, pleasure, treasure, and in many cases, the difference between living well and just getting by. Treeless islanders relied on the harvest of storms to furnish themselves with rafters, boat hulls, fence-posts and floors. The Cornish were supposed to be so ferocious that notices of shipwrecks were given out during morning service by the minister, while the congregation concocted theological justifications for drowning the survivors. In other places, false lights were set up with grisly ingenuity along the coast to lure boats into destruction.
With romance, insight and dry wit, Bella Bathurst traces the history of wrecking, looting and salvaging in the British Isles from the eighteenth century to the present day. 'For a fully laden general cargo to run to ground in an accessible position is more or less like having Selfridges crash-land in your back garden,' she writes. The divisions between theft and recovery are small. No successful legal prosecution has ever been brought - even today lifeboat crews maintain the right to claim salvage. These murky tales of opportunism open a beguiling vista of life at the rough edges of our land and legality.