For this figure head and many others can be found in a corner of the Tresco Abbey Gardens called Valhalla after the old Norse mythical hall for slain warriors. In it are mementos of some of the many, many boats that have foundered off the Isles of Scilly.
Some of the wrecks that were lost in these treacherous waters can be found in this Wikipedia article. While there will have others that have been forgotten in years gone by, the list includes some wrecks of historical note.
One such was the loss of Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell's fleet on the 22nd October, 1707. As graphically re-told in Dava Sobel's Longitude, the Admiral had been warned of the danger by an unnamed seaman. Unfortunately for all Admiral Shovell rather than taking the man's advice had him hung for mutiny on the spot.
Sir Clowdisley nearly made it to safety, being one of just two washed ashore. But it really wasn't to be his day, as he was found and drowned by a local woman who took a fancy to his emerald ring.
From this disaster the Board of Longitude was formed, to solve once and for the tricky question of calculating the other coordinate in addition to Latitude that is required to fix the position of a boat.
With so many wrecks there are many possible stories to tell, but in this post will give just one more, the loss of the greatest ever pure sailing ship.
The Thomas W Lawson was a seven masted steel hulled schooner built in 1902 and was powered purely by the wind, having no auxiliary engine. While there were other sailing ships that were larger, they all had an engine.
Alas the Thomas W Lawson only sailed the seas for five years as it was wrecked on the Isles of Scilly in 1907. Amongst the relics in Valhalla on the island of Tresco is this, one of its lifebelts. The seas were so rough and rocks so perilous that even some of the sailors with them drowned.