The Natière site

Two rocks, two wrecks


Located just next to the principal channel leading to the port of Saint-Malo, the two rocks that make up the north and south end of the Natière reef are only visible at very low tides. They are a perfect example of what are called "ship-traps". It was thus no surprise when the site discovered at the foot of the rocks in 1995 by sport diver Jean-Pierre Génar was found to contain not one but two large shipwrecks. They lay parallel to one another, and were designated, for the sake of convenience, Natière 1 and Natière 2. The topography of the reef and the presence of a sandy stretch of floor next to it provided excellent protection for both wrecks.

A possible third wreck to the north?


Investigations in the area led to the discovery of yet another architectural ensemble just to the north of the northern rock. Resting directly on the sand and more exposed to the currents, it was much less well preserved than either Natière 1 or Natière 2. In 2008, archaeological analysis showed that these remains, which for a long time were classified as Natière 3, were in all likelihood part of the port side of Natière 2.

A ten-year archaeological campaign


Analysis of the site required ten successive archaeological campaigns. This was due to several factors, including the fact that the vestiges were scattered across nearly a thousand square metres, the depth of the site, which, depending on the tide, varied between 8 and 19 metres, and the fact that the divers could only work during slack tides. Work began in 1999 and was brought to a close in 2008.

Multimedia

Teddy Seguin (Adramar) © MCC / DRASSM
The indispensable (and reassuring) lifeline, which connects the support ship with the archaeological site, and guides the divers. (Ref. : NAT06_SM0120)
Erwan Frogé © DDE35, subdivision maritime, SEPM
Bathymetric mapping of the Natière site. The two wrecks can be seen in the centre of the image. (Ref. : NAT02_I0003)
Teddy Seguin (Adramar) © MCC / DRASSM
At low tide, the rocks of the Ouvras bank, formerly known as the Grandes Louvrois, emerge from the surface of the water. (Ref. : NAT08_E0032)