Hundreds of artifacts came from the wreck of El Nuevo Constante. They are unusual because of their variety and their good preservation. Examples include all manner of metal and wooden ship fittings and structural parts. Other artifacts are weapons, possessions of the crew and passengers, and cargo.
Divers also found many objects called concretions. In these, layers of calcium carbonate, iron rust, sand, clay, and shell cover small artifacts. Archaeologists weighed these concretions and x-rayed some of them. They broke most open and recorded their contents. Many concretions contained parts of spikes, nails, and bolts. Some also had pieces of ceramics, wood, bone, and cannon shot.
In spite of the Spanish salvage, many items were still on the wreck. Spanish authorities must have been unable to find or to transport many objects. Perhaps they thought some of them were not important enough to salvage.
The following sections tell what archaeologists and historians learned about the ship, the cargo, and personal items of the passengers and crew.
Historical records describe the ship. Documents of March 1764 say El Nuevo Constante was a vessel of about 470 tons. It was 121 feet long, 30 feet wide, 19 feet deep, and had three masts. Records indicate it had four pumps, four large anchors, and two small ones. It was armed with eighteen 8-pounder and four 4- pounder cannons. It also carried 36 muskets, 18 pairs of pistols, 24 war axes, and ammunition. El Nuevo Constante, originally the Duke of York, probably was of British construction and carried British arms.
The largest object recorded in the excavation was the lower 3 to 4 feet of the ship's hull. Its measurements are similar to those in the historical records. It is 127.5 feet long and 26 feet at its widest point. Excavators cleared most of the interior that did not have decking. However, the compact mud kept them from going deeper than a foot or so down the hull exterior. In the center of this booklet is a drawing that shows the wreck as archaeologists mapped it. It was left in place at the end of fieldwork and allowed to fill in naturally and silt over.
The hull gives a lot of information about shipbuilding in the 1700s. Frame timbers average 11 to 13 inches in width. These are the large pieces that curve upward to form the ribs of the ship. Three cross sections show floor frame shapes required to achieve the curve of the hull. The frame timbers are oak. The large central timber, known as the keelson, is intact down much of the length of the vessel. One-inch diameter iron bolts attach it to the keel and other pieces. A large portion of the interior decking, or "ceiling" planking, also is still in place. Identified samples of ceiling planking are pine.
Wooden planks cover the outside of the hull. Probing with a small iron rod showed that the hull planking is intact on the remaining part of the vessel. These planks are 4 inches thick and up to 13 inches wide. "Trunnels" or "tree nails" (wooden pegs) and iron bolts attach the hull planks to frames. The trunnels are approximately 1.75 inches in diameter. The hull planks and trunnels are made of white oak.