Excavations at the aftermost extremity of the ballast mound uncovered the articulated remains of the tail of the ship, from the end of the keelson to the sternpost. This portion of the lower hull was the narrowest part of the vessel, which ran aft below the waterline towards the rudder. Eleven two-meter square excavation units were opened to reveal tail frames and planking, the ships rudder and its fittings, lead sheathing and iron fasteners, as well as many other artifacts, including ammunition for the ships artillery. Near the rudder, which became unshipped probably when the ship grounded on the sand bar, was found a breast plate, which is one of the oldest pieces of body armor found to date in the Americas.
Wooden sailing ships plying the South Atlantic and American waters needed some form of protection from shipworms that quickly ate through the hull planking below the waterline. One method of protection was to nail strips of lead to the hull to cover vulnerable areas, such as the seams between planks. During excavations at the stern of the Emanuel Point Ship, over 200 fragments of lead sheathing or patching were recovered. All have holes left by sheathing tacks, and a few have impressions of fabric, which backed the lead. Some of the fragments of lead appear to have been patching material to repair leaks. Sheets of lead were also found covering the arms of the rudder hinges, or gudgeons.
The ship's rudder was found lying behind and to starboard of the sternpost. It appears to have fallen from the sternpost onto its port side sometime after the wrecking incident. The rudder is constructed from two planks of wood, edge-joined with at least three large wrought-iron drift pins. Three pintles, representing the male components of the rudder hinges, are still fastened to the rudder. The forward surface of the rudder is hollowed out at the location of each pintle to allow the pintles to hang in the gudgeons, which are the female counterparts attached to the sternpost.
milliliters of liquid mercury, or quicksilver, were found in the stern
of the Emanuel Point Ship. The heavy metal most likely had spilled from
its container into the bilge during shipment. Quicksilver was used in mining
to separate precious metals from base metals in crude ores. First shipped
under royal monopoly to Mexico in quantity during the 1550s, mercury became
a principal ingredient in the amalgamation of silver from its ore. The presence
of mercury in the bilge of the Emanuel Point Ship suggests that, at one
time, the vessel had carried a cargo which included quantities of quicksilver,
which may have leaked from containers and gravitated into the bottom of
the hold. Transport of mercury was a tricky business, since the metal oxidizes
very quickly, resulting in corrosion of containers and resultant leakage,
which is difficult to recover, especially at sea.
A small coin was found lying buried under a piece of lead sheathing behind the sternpost. Highly encrusted with corrosion products, the coin is in very poor and fragmentary condition. Once the concretion was removed, the coin and its encrustation still retained sufficient detail to be identified by experts as a billon blanca, minted between 1471 and 1474, possibly at the Cuenca mint during the reign of Henry IV (1454-1474) of Castille and León. The term billon (vellón) refers to coinage made from an alloy of silver heavily debased with copper. Blanca was the lowest denomination of coins minted during this medieval monarch's reign.
Similar blancas of this type were unearthed during excavations
at La Isabela in the Dominican Republic, the first European settlement
in the New World, which was founded by Christopher Columbus in 1494. A
single blanca of Henry IV also was found at the Long Bay site on
San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, which is argued to have been the first
American landfall of Columbus in 1492. Discovery of this late medieval
example of "small change" at the stern of the Emanuel Point Ship
is surprising, since by the 1550s, this would have been an old coin of
little negotiable value.
breast plate was discovered lying near the rudder in the starboard stern
area. Heavily encrusted, the plate is one of the few surviving examples
of metal body armor to be found in the New World. The former Curator of
Royal Armor for the Tower of London has examined the Emanuel Point breast
plate, determining it to date to around 1510, probably of Northern Italian
manufacture. The armor probably was worn by a foot soldier who was larger
than the average fighting man of the times. It predates, by more than a
century, any body armor of this type found in the Americas.