Shipwreck Treasure Museum

In Brief

Type: Historical attraction
Suitable for: All landlubbers, especially kids
Address: Quay Road, Charlestown, near St Austell
Price: Adults £12.50, five to 17-year-olds £8 and under-fives go for free
Dog friendly?: Yes

Load up the ship, me hearties, ‘cos we’ve struck gold! Pirates, pillagers and other people can visit the Shipwreck Treasure Museum and learn all about a plethora of historical items and pieces of eight that have been found under the surface of the sea over many years.

The Shipwreck Treasure Museum, in the historic port of Charlestown near St Austell, is billed as ‘a place of peril and possibility, where a seabed full of salvaged stories waits to be explored’. You couldn’t describe it any better as there’s as much enigma here as there is education. The museum is full of objects that have been discovered by divers in the waters around Cornwall and beyond over the years. And you can learn all about the divers themselves as there are plenty of engrossing stories told throughout the museum.

There are more than 8,000 treasures from more than 150 wrecks on display at the museum, which is located above the UNESCO World Heritage site at Charlestown. Highlights include gold bullion bars, copper ingots, heavy cannon balls and the only intact barrel of coins that’s ever been recovered from a shipwreck site. The history of Charlestown itself is also told here and visitors can journey through underground tunnels below the museum. These tunnels were once used to load clay on to ships that were moored out in the harbour and they add an extra special air of mystery to your day out.

New for 2022 are three new exhibitions and experiences at the museum. The Shackleton Experience sees the tunnels beneath the museum transformed into the icy world that polar explorers like Ernest Shackleton and his crew once traipsed through in search of adventure. Sticking with the Shackleton theme, there’s also a Royal Geographical Society photographic exhibition on his ill-fated Endurance expedition to Antarctica. The wreck of the Endurance was only discovered on 5 March 2022, 107 years after it sank. The final new exhibition is ‘Frozen In Time’, which explores how cutting-edge technology has changed shipwreck hunting for archaeologists in polar regions.

Pre-booking timed-entry tickets is essential ahead of your visit. There’s a shop at the museum that offers a haul of nautical trinkets, rums and books and then there’s the Rebellion Charlestown eatery next door that serves up a cracking range of hearty food and cocktails to hungry landlubbers. It all makes for a great day of discovery and drama on the safety of Cornish land rather than out there on the waves. Just dive right in.