Spanish Armada Burial Site to be Investigated in Co. Clare

Spanish Armada Ireland
‘English ships and the Spanish Armada, August 1588’ (source)

An interesting project is about to commence in Co. Clare which will investigate a potential mass grave associated with the Spanish Armada of 1588. In July, a team of archaeologists from Rubicon Heritage Services will conduct a geophysical survey of a site at Spanish Point that is thought to contain burials related to two Spanish Armada ships, the San Marcos and San Esteban.

Route taken by the Spanish Armada (source)

It is hoped that this non-invasive survey will determine whether a mass burial did actually occur at Spanish Point. It forms part of the San Marcos Project, a multi-disciplinary initiative, involving members of the local community, that is currently investigating the archaeology and history of these two Spanish Armada vessels.

Representing the pride of the Spanish Navy, the San Esteban and San Marcos ships sank during a violent storm on the 20th of September 1588, with the loss of over 700 men (both sailors and soldiers). They had been attempting to return to Spain, via the west coast of Ireland, after a disastrous encounter with the English Navy.

Roughly 60 survivors from the two ill-fated ships made it ashore, where they were promptly captured by Boetius Clancy, High Sheriff of Clare. The Spanish sailors were shown little mercy and after a short imprisonment were hanged on a nearby hill. Their remains were subsequently buried in a mass grave on Spanish Point, the suspected site of which is now being investigated by Rubicon Heritage Services. I can’t wait to see the results of their work.

Related Websites

The San Marcos Project

Rubicon Heritage Services 

6 thoughts on “Spanish Armada Burial Site to be Investigated in Co. Clare

  1. ‘Twould also be interesting if, while the team were at it, they could go south 2 or 3 hours and check out “The Grave of The Yellow Men” at Kilbaha east shoreline?
    Although permission to take a DNA sample from one of those bones might answer a few questions.

    1. Murray,
      DNA will also put paid to the myth that the dark haired and brown eyed people to be found all along Ireland’s Western Seaboard are the survivors of the half drowned Spanish Armada. Sadly most of them were put to death. DNA has now established this development is linked over thousands of years to the dealings in slavery between the Barbary Coast, North Africa, the Iberian peninsula and in particular to the North Western part linking Irish bloodline culture and music to the Portuguese and Basque regions.

  2. Fabulous story and I’m glad to see you’re connected with the San Marcos project. A friend of mine is a writer and photographer who published a novel that featured the San Marcos. It looks like things are bright for finding her this summer. He has a kickstarter to write about it and will be working and writing with the head of the expedition.

    Let’s find the San Marcos! (And get to read about it!)

  3. Hi, I would be interested in the results of any tests done on the mass graves of the Spanish Armada. My ancestors came from Spain to Ireland and it is said that some of them stayed here. Thanks. Eileen
    O Toole.

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