The 1076 km long coastline of Tamil Nadu forms part of the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Tamil Nadu, the peninsular province of India known for the maritime activities since 3rd century BCE onwards. Alagankulam, Arikamedu (Poduke), Bandarpattanam, Cuddalore, Karaikadu, Poompuhar (Kaveripattinam), Korkai (Kayal), Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram), Marakkanam, Mayilapore or Mylapore (Madras, Chennai) Nagapattinam, Palayakayal (Kayal), Periyapattinam, (Palaverkadu), Pulicat, Vasavasamudram, Devipattinam, Tarangambadi (Tranquebar), Thondi and Tuticorin (Figure 1) were the ancient and medieval ports of Tamil Nadu played a significant role in the maritime trade of India (Shanmugam, 2010; Rajan, 2019, 1988; Raman, 1988). These ports developed along the coastline and estuaries had maritime trade contacts with the Romans, the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asian countries during the early historical period and continued until the medieval period. Some ports had trade contacts with the European countries from the 16th and 17th centuries onwards. Among the European countries, Portuguese were the first to arrive at Tuticorin in 1532 CE, the Dutch were to establish their trade centre at Pulicat in 1609 CE, followed by the Danes at Tranquebar and the British East India Company established their settlement south of Pulicat in 1639. In the later period, European rulers left these regions except the British, who ruled until the independence of India.

Figure 1 

Ports and maritime trade centres of Tamil Nadu.

In the course of shipping, several naval battles have fought for supremacy, which led to many casualties, and numerous ships were lost, along with cargo and anchors. Similarly, several ships have been wrecked off Tamil Nadu coast because of various factors. Evidence regarding shipwrecks are known from the Tamil inscriptions (Venkatesan, 1988), and CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has collected information on shipwrecks off Tamil Nadu coast from marine and other records, which are housed in archives of India and abroad including Tamil Nadu State Archives and libraries, Chennai. Besides shipwrecks, several cannons, guns and iron anchors have been recorded both in underwater and terrestrial sites of Tamil Nadu, and some of them are displayed in museums and open area. During the recent explorations, four iron anchors were noticed along the Tamil Nadu coast. Among them, one iron anchor was found in Tuticorin fishing harbour, and the other one is in old Tuticorin port. The remaining two anchors are displayed in the Government Museum, Egmore, Chennai. This finding corroborates the fact that Tuticorin and the adjoining regions played a significant role in maritime activities of Tamil Nadu since ancient times. This paper details the iron anchors, including their typology, period and importance in the maritime history of India. Besides, an outline on the iron anchors of India is also discussed.

Tuticorin as a port and trade centre

Tuticorin is also known as Thoothukudi, situated on the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and the region has been known for pearl harvesting and as a trade centre since ancient times. Korkai, the capital of the early Pandyan Dynasty is often referred to in the Sangam literature, and it was the primary port and trade centre located adjacent to Tuticorin (Arunachalam et al. 2006). While referring to the overseas trade contacts between India and Alexandria, the foremost emporium of the Roman Empire, Ptolemy specified about Korkai (Kolkhoi) as a pearl trade centre (McCrindle, 1885). Further, the author of Periplus of the Erythraean Sea has stated that Korkai (Kolkhoi) was an emporium of pearl trade; and it is located along the seacoast to the east of Cape Comorin (Schoff, 1912). Majeed (1987), who excavated Korkai, has suggested that Korkai was under the Pandyan kingdom, which stretched from Comari (Kanya Kumari) and extended to Colchi (Korkai), which was the pearl trade region. After the decline of Korkai, Kayal came to limelight; and Marco Polo visited Kayal and referred to it as Cali (Casson, 1989). Tuticorin was ruled by the Pandyas (7th and 9th centuries CE), Cholas (9th and 12th centuries), Vijayanagara as well as Nayak rulers. Later on, Tuticorin came under the suzerainty of the European rule. Among the Europeans, Portuguese were the first to arrive at Tuticorin in 1532 CE, followed by the Dutch in 1609; afterwards the British took over Tuticorin from the Dutch in 1782 and ruled for centuries. Tuticorin port town received much attention from the rulers for improving their trade. Even today, Tuticorin is the sea gateway of Tamil Nadu, and as a major seaport of India serves many inland towns and cities of Southern India.

Anchors from Tamil Nadu coast

The Maritime Archaeology Centre of the Tamil University, Thanjavur, had carried out onshore and offshore explorations of Tamil Nadu coast to locate the maritime heritage of the region. During the investigations between off Thondi and Mullai Thivu Island, near Rameswaram coast, two iron anchors, as well as five stone anchors, were brought to light around the coast of Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar respectively (Figure 2). The iron, as well as stone anchors, are presently displayed at Thanjavur Museum, and all the anchors are described briefly.

Figure 2 

Anchor finding sites along the Tamil Nadu coast.

Iron anchor 1

The iron anchor with 2 m long shank and stock was recovered in 1986 from 10 m water depth off Thondi. The anchor chain is attached with the anchor whereas flukes of the anchor corroded. After removal of the marine growth from the surface of anchor, it is noticed that ‘GUERIGNY No. 11 P 730 K GX’ and 1864 has engraved on the crown. It is inferred that ‘Guerigny’, could be the name of manufacturing Company of the anchor in France or the anchor could belong to the French Naval vessel and 1864 stands for the year of manufacturing of the anchor (Rajamanickam, 1992). There are some more letters, which are illegible, and it is difficult to understand their significance.

Iron anchor 2

The other iron anchor was recovered from 8 m water depth off Mullai Thivu Island, near Rameswaram along the Gulf of Mannar coast. The stock of the anchor resembles the previous iron anchor, but this anchor is highly corroded. The length of the shank is 1.5 m, and engravings not found on this anchor.

Besides these two iron anchors, five stone anchors have recovered during underwater as well as coastal explorations. Among the stone anchors, the first Indo-Arabian stone anchor was discovered from 2.4 m water depth off Kursadi Island, on the southwest side of Rameswaram Island. The anchor was buried in the sediment, and anchor holes noted after the removal of deposited sediment and marine growth. Chisel marks on the surface of the anchor are worn out because of frequent use. In one of the lower holes, a groove mark is present, which was made to provide additional grip so that the fluke would not come out quickly. The other Indo-Arabian stone anchor was found in 10.5 m water depth off Poomarichan Island, west of Kursadi Island. Its two lower holes are present whereas the upper hole is missing and made of greywacke sandstone. The lower portion of the anchor is damaged, which implies its frequent usage (Athiyaman and Jayakumar, 2004).

Another Indo-Arabian type of anchor, made of granite, was found inland, used as a fencing stone near a mosque at Vedalai, 5 km west of Mandapam village. Both the rectangular lower holes are present; however, the rope hole of the anchor is not visible. Chisel marks are visible clearly on the surface of the anchor. The other trapezoidal anchor, made of sandstone, has one circular apical hole found in situ, near the backwater of Periapattinam, the coastal village. The anchor is weathered; therefore, no chisel marks are seen (Athiyaman, 2014; and Athiyaman, 2001).

The mooring stone made of greywacke sandstone, which appears like an anchor, was found at Threspuram, a suburb of Tuticorin. This anchor has been erected on the beach; even today, fishing boats are tied to the anchor. Its height is 90 cm, upper section measures 30 × 30 cm, the ground level is 50 × 50 cm, and its rope hole measures 11 cm. This mooring stone appears like an Indo-Arabian type of stone anchor and resembles the stone anchor of Kursadi Island. Most probably, its lower fluke holes are present and buried, which can be confirmed after removal from the ground.

History of Iron anchors of India

During the early historical and medieval periods, the use of iron anchors was unknown in India. It appears that the Europeans introduced iron anchors in India in the 16th and 17th centuries CE (Qaisar, 1982). Stone anchors were used before the introduction of iron anchors; consequently, both iron and stone anchors were used for centuries together in Indian waters. Even today, traditional boatmen use stones as anchors. A significant number of stone anchors have been documented during maritime archaeological explorations along the east and west coasts of India (Sila Tripati, 2014). Similarly, iron anchors have been recorded both in shipwrecks and inland sites of India. For instance, iron anchors have been reported from Sunchi Reef, Sail Rock and Aguada waters off Goa (Figure 3a–b) (Sila Tripati et al. 2014a; and Sila Tripati et al. 2003), off Tamil Nadu coast (Rajamanickam, 1992; Athiyaman, 2014) and Bangaram Island of Lakshadweep (Figure 3c) (Gupchup, 1997; Tripathi, 2004). Besides, iron anchors have displayed in several museums of India, such as Odisha State Museum, Bhubaneswar (Figure 3e–f) (Sila Tripati et al., 2014b), Archaeological Museum (ASI), (Figure 3g–h) Old Goa, Goa State Museum, (Figure 3i–j) Panaji, and Lal Bahadur Shastri Nautical and Engineering College, Mumbai (Figure 3d) (Sila Tripati et al. 2003). Moreover, one iron anchor is being worshipped as Lord Loyaleshwar (Siva) in a small temple at Dabhol jetty, Maharashtra (Gaur et al. 2009).

Figure 3 

(a–j) Varied types of Iron anchors from different sites of India.

During maritime archaeological explorations off Puducherry (Pondicherry), remains of many iron anchors have been recorded in different water depths. Similarly, the local pearl and chunk divers informed that they had noticed many iron anchors in varied water depths off Devipattinam, Pamban and Thondy along the Tamil Nadu coast. The occurrence of iron anchors suggests that ships might have lost these anchors, or there might be shipwrecks in the region (Rajamanickam, 1992). However, local fishermen have marked these sites and avoid fishing in the area. Many iron anchors have been reported from other places of India, which are yet to be documented and studied.

Further, Bowery (1905) has mentioned the use of iron anchors in Purgoo, the sailing boats of the east coast of India, and the endurance of Purgoo in the sea was for a long time. Purgoo boats sailed by the English and Dutch between Hugli of Bengal and Pipli and Balasore regions of Odisha. Probably, Purgoo is a corrupted version of Portuguese term Barca (barge). Purgoo boats carry iron anchors on the stern. The sketch of Purgoo with an iron anchor and stock published by Bowrey (1905) suggests that during the 17th century iron anchors were used in the east coast of India. The East India Company had factories at Madapollum and Narsapur on the Coromandel Coast where vessels were built, and iron anchors, bolts and speeks (spikes) were manufactured. The English and other merchants built ships and boats at Madapollum because of availability of finest timber and other materials (Bowery, 1905). It could be inferred that during the 17th century iron anchors were produced in this region. Besides, Patella, the flat bottom boats used in Hugly (Hooghly) carry iron anchors on the bows having the stock, which were similar to the European types (Hill, 1958). The line drawings of anchors shown on Purgoo and Patella look identical and make it challenging to distinguish them.

Iron anchor of the fishing harbour, Tuticorin (08°47.610’ & 78°09.524’)

The iron anchor (Figure 4a) kept in the fishing harbour of Tuticorin, belongs to the Trotman type; its total length of the shank is 3.65 m, and square in section. The crescent-shaped arm is flexible, joined with a bolt and moved up and downwards. The palms are flat, triangular and facing upward and on its widest end, a flat flange which has an eye is fixed at a right angle. Two bow-shaped gravity shackles are provided which pivot on a bolt just above the arms. The iron stock is 3.60 m in length, circular in section; tapers towards on one end, spheres on both ends are corroded. A swivelling ring is provided top of the shank in which a shackle is fixed using a pin.

Figure 4 

(a–b) Iron anchors found at Tuticorin fishing and old harbour.

The number 1820 has been written with white oil paint on the anchor. Marks or signs are not found on the anchor, and its source is yet to be ascertained. Presently, the anchor has displayed in the open area below a tree near the compound wall of the office of the Assistant Director of Fisheries, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Being the anchor is displayed in the open area; hence, the rate of corrosion is faster, and pitting marks are visible on the anchor.

Iron anchor of the old harbour, Tuticorin (8°48.171’ & 78°09.527’)

The iron anchor (Figure 4b) which has been erected on a platform inside the old harbour, Tuticorin, opposite to the security post main gate also belongs to the Trotman type. The total length of the shank is 1.60 m, its section is square and octagonal at the centre. Above the arms, two bow-shaped gravity shackles are provided with a bolt. The bolt is connected to the crescent-shaped arm which is placed on the platform. The palms are forged along with the flange at its widest end. There is no eye on the flat flange. The length of the iron stock is 1.10 m, circular in section; one end of the stock is rounded bend, tapers at both ends, and both the nuts/knobs of each end of the stock are present (Paasch, 1977) which are prominent. The anchor has been painted with black, and its state is good. The anchor has an inscription on one side at the lower end of the shank whereas the other side is blank. The engraving on the anchor is not seeable clearly because the anchor has painted; still, DBRI 26193 or 83 and 1 0 0 1 7 are visible, whereas some other writings are illegible, probably it can be read after the removal of the paint. A plaque has been fixed on a platform dedicated to sailors, which states ‘In the memory of THE SAILORS who lost their lives at sea’. On the ‘National Maritime Day,’ the anchor was erected on the platform.

Description of iron anchors at the Government Museum, Egmore (13° 04.290’ & 80°15.396’)

Both the iron anchors are displayed in the open area behind the museum building. The display board of the anchor reads that ‘the anchor was brought from the old Collector office, Chennai in 1953. Its length is 4.57 m, thickness 23 cm, length of each prong 190 cm and thickness 10 cm. It weighs about three tons, and the anchor might belong to some warship’. Both the arms of the anchor are corroded; which are prominent and can be seen on the anchor distinctly (Figure 5a). The arms and flukes are flecking because of corrosion; the remaining part of the anchor is good. The shank is round in section, and it has a provision to fix a wooden stock. No marks or symbols are noticed on the anchor. A preventive coat has been applied on the anchor, and no biological growth is present on its surface.

Figure 5 

(a–b) Iron anchors displayed at the Government Museum, Egmore, Chennai.

The other iron anchor (Figure 5b) was brought from Kovalam village in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu. The length of the shank is 2.89 m; the stock is 3.43 m and length of the prong 2.48 m long. One of the flukes is broken. Pitting marks can be seen on the anchor because of corrosion. As usual, the iron stock is plain, tapers on both the sides and one end of the stock is rounded bend. Right side nut/knob of the stock is present; another side one is missing. The collar/notch of the stock is present on the right side, and the stock pin or keep pin is missing, but pinhole is distinct. The collar and stock pin were provided to hold the stock firmly from sliding of the stock. Usually, these types of stocks are flexible. The anchor has the shackle/ring for securing the cable. Though the preventive coat has been applied on the anchor, now it is eroding. No marks are found on this anchor. Since these anchors are kept in the open area, the rate of corrosion is more.

Discussion and Conclusions

Anchors of every kind made of stone, wood, lead or iron have played a decisive role in maritime trade and shipping. Studies of anchors suggest that in ancient times anchors were made of stone and wood, afterwards; lead and iron used for making anchors. In India even today traditional fishermen of Tuticorin and Rameswaram regions of Tamil Nadu, Konark coast of Odisha, Kalingapatnam coast of Andhra Pradesh and other region use stones of various shapes as anchors, and this have been continued since ancient times. Numerous composite, Indo-Arabian, single hole and ring stone anchors have documented in Indian waters, but iron anchor findings are lesser in number. With regard to the discovery of iron anchors in India, most of them belong to either the Portuguese or British period. For instance, the Archaeological Museum, old Goa has housed two Admiralty long shank anchors; similarly, four iron anchors have been retrieved while dredging the mouth of the River Mandovi and these are housed in the Goa State Museum. Among them, one is Admiralty long shank anchor, and the other three belongs to Admiralty iron stock anchor. Similarly, three Admiralty long shank anchors have been found off Sunchi Reef and Aguada waters (Sila Tripati et al. 2014a; and Sila Tripati et al. 2003). One Admiralty long shank anchor recovered from Vijaydurg, Maharashtra, now housed in the Indian Maritime University Mumbai Port Campus, Mumbai. Two each Admiralty long shank anchors and Admiralty iron stock anchors, which were found on the bank of the River Burabalanga in the coastal regions of Balaramgadi in Balasore district and other two from the bank of River Baitarani at Chandabali in Bhadrak district, Odisha, at present displayed in the Odisha State Museum, Bhubaneswar (Sila Tripati et al., 2014b). All these anchors belong to the British period. During underwater explorations, broken iron anchors noticed in Somnath, Pondicherry and Goa waters. Further investigations may yield more number of iron anchors from inland and underwater sites. Likewise, the iron anchors, which are exhibited either in the museums and other places of India, should be studied because these are part of our heritage. Unless appropriate care is taken, we may lose them forever.

Besides Indian waters, different types of stone and iron anchors have been documented from other parts of the world. Archaeological evidence indicates that during the historical period, stone anchors were used in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and Indian Ocean realm. The excavations of Siraf, Iran has brought to light two broken Indo-Arabian types of stone anchors datable to the 8th–11th century CE (Whitehouse, 1970). Composite, Indo-Arabian, single hole and ring stone anchors have documented from Oman waters (Vosmer, 1999). Composite stone anchors have discovered from the coast of Bushehr port in the Persian Gulf (Tofighian, 2019). Stone anchors, similar to India, have been recovered from the Galle harbour of Sri Lanka (Souter, 1998). Composite and Indo-Arabian stone anchors have recorded from Mombasa, Kenya (Bita and Sila Tripati, 2015), as well as Kilwa Kisiwani and Mogadishu on the east African coast (Chittick, 1980). Besides the Indian Ocean region composite and Indo-Arabian type of stone anchors have been discovered from several shipwrecks, ports and inland sites along the Mediterranean Sea and Red sea coast (Frost, 1963; Raban, 1990; Raban, 2000). Wooden anchors recorded from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and other regions of Southeast Asia (Sasaki and Kimura, 2015). The distinctive type of grapnel style composite anchor (8th and 9th centuries CE) recorded in Belitung shipwreck Tanjung Pandan, Indonesia made of iron and wood with four horizontal arms and this anchor differs in shape from other anchors (Flecker, 2000; Flecker, 2001; McCann, 2020).

The evolution of iron anchors suggest that primarily V-shaped with a rectangular stock iron anchors were used in the Roman Republican period, shape wise these anchors were comparable with wood and lead anchors. While in the early Roman Imperial period, the arms of iron anchors became rounded and the stock was rectangular. During the Roman Imperial period, the arms of the iron anchors were straightened and more horizontal, whereas flukes were marginally raised, and the stock was rectangular, which was remained unchanged. During the end of the Late Roman period, the local Byzantine and Islamic periods use of T-shaped anchors began, and their arms were straight, right angles to the shank where flukes were inclined upwards. Y-shaped anchors were introduced lastly, which is evident from the Serçe Limani shipwreck (1025 CE) (Kapitan, 1984; Eliyahu et al. 2011; Van Doorninck, 2004). Different types of iron anchors have documented from shipwrecks of the later period. A few abandoned iron anchors have also reported on the coastal regions. Most of the iron anchors recovered from later period shipwrecks belong to Admiralty long shank and Admiralty iron anchors. Some of the Admiralty long shank anchors found with wooden stocks. For instance, the wooden stock of iron anchor of Sydney Cove (1797) is made of a single piece of teak, approximately 4 m in length and secured by four iron reinforcing bands (Nash, 2001). The Cara Merchant ‘built at Surat’ was captured off the coast of India by Captain William Kidd, the pirate and sailed the ship to different places, and at last, abandoned the vessel at Catalina Island off the southeastern coast of Hispaniola en route to New England in 1699; subsequently, the Cara Merchant wrecked. The excavations of the Cara Merchant includes cannons, many iron anchors and several tons of scrap iron (Hanselmann and Beeker, 2008; and Hanselmann and Beeker, 2015). The National Maritime Museum, England has also displayed Admiralty long shank anchors with wooden stock, Admiralty iron anchors, Porter anchor and Trotman anchors (Upham, 1983). Even some museums of Australia, Portugal and the UK have collections of iron anchors, which belong to shipwrecks or received from other sources.

History of anchor provides information from evolution to development as well as use of stone, wood, lead, wrought iron and combination of these for making anchors in different periods. Nevertheless, it is critical to understand why iron used for making anchors, and it continued for centuries. Iron used because it is comparatively stronger than lead, stone and wood; easy to weld, hammering and giving a required shape. Moreover, it is cheaper, heavy, tough (lead (Pb) is relatively costly, soft and malleable) and comparatively corrosion resistant than mild steel. Wrought iron is an alloy and content of carbon is low (less than 0.08%), hence wrought iron is preferred for making anchors, bolts, chains, wires including agricultural implements (Gordon, 1996). Iron anchors discussed in this article made of wrought iron that could be forged to shape and hammer welded to complete the form. Once the use of wrought iron started, its demand continuously increased and reached its peak in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Studies on the metallurgy, metallography and manufacturing processes of ancient and modern period iron anchors have been carried out which suggest that time to time improvements made in the techniques of fabrication as well as to increase the efficiency of the anchors (Eliyahu et al. 2011; Samuels, 1980).

Introduction of modern iron anchors precisely cannot be specified, their shape, size and weight differ from ancient iron anchors onwards; however, probably introduction of modern iron anchors started from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The recorded history of iron anchors are known from the sixteenth century onwards, and their arms were curved; whereas larger anchors had straight arms, these anchors used in English vessels. The Seamen’s Directory of Mainwaring (1622) states that the length of the shank is twice that of a fluke; similarly, the size of shank and stock is roughly the same. A Sea Grammar by Captain John Smith (1627) provides a list of anchors which were used in the seventeenth century, further it is stated that a ship of 500 tons carries an anchor of 907 kg (Upham, 1983). From this period onwards, iron anchors have named after the persons who had developed them.

Eighteenth century onwards iron anchors were produced from a bundle of iron bars, and rods, which are fastened together with iron brackets, heated together then forged to make one bar, and shank, stock and flukes made. Afterwards, shank, stock and fluke are welded one after the other along with the other parts. In the absence of technology, flaws and faults remained unchecked for several decades; therefore, arms of anchors broke frequently under severe pressure while lifting and handling.

The Admiralty Anchors are the reinvention from the classical design, as seen in one of the Nemi ship anchors. This fundamental design continued unchanged for centuries together, subsequently significant changes made on the overall proportions, and there was a change of stocks made of wood to iron stocks in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The Old plan Long shanked anchors which were also known as the Admiralty long shank anchors used by the Royal Navy and many other merchants and private vessels until 1840 and became rarer on ships in the 19th century. These anchors had the provision for the wooden stock, that’s why the shank has slicing of edges on the four sides, which help to insert the shank smoothly in the wooden stock. Wooden stock anchors remain unchanged aboard vessels of timber hulls. Cotsell (1856) has stated that more number of the Old plan Long shanked anchors (Admiralty long shank anchor) were broken because arms were straight. Palms of Admiralty long shank anchors generally hold a larger area, bury in deep sediment, arms break while retrieving, therefore to overcome such defects, Pering introduced curved arms. The advantage of Rodger anchors over the Admiralty anchors was because of finished palm and length of the arm. In the case of holding capacity, Admiralty anchors were more preferred. The holding ability of the anchor depends on the arm. The angle of the arm is set relative to the shank and position of the palm (Curryer, 1999; Cotsell, 1856). Admiralty long shank anchors were made in the pre-machine age and tended to break while being raised; hence Trotman anchors have replaced them (Upham, 1983).

The development of iron anchors through the eighteenth century is well documented, including their designs and manufacturing processes. Several Admiralty long shank anchors iron anchors of the 18th century have been excavated from the shipwrecks in Australia namely HMS Sirius 1790, HMS Pandora 1791 and Sydney Cove 1797, including Indian waters. The shank of these anchors was round in section with a gradual tapering towards the ring end. The arms of the anchor have attached the crown about 60 degrees with the shank. The flukes or palms are welded to the upper surface of the arms (Curryer, 1999). The anchor chain was absent in Admiralty long shank anchors, and cables were used made of hemp. The cable and the circular ring protected by wrapping tarred canvas and fastened with a small rope. Remains of these materials have been recovered along with the anchor of the Sydney Cove shipwreck (Nutley and Smith, 2000; Calligan, 1994; Nash, 1991). The weights and scales of the Admiralty long shank anchors have been estimated, and several guides are available to determine it (Steel, 1978; Curryer, 1999).

The Admiralty pattern anchor replaced the Admiralty long shank anchor around 1837. The Admiralty pattern anchors with curved arms developed in 1841 under Admiral William Parker. The proportions of this anchor are three to one, for instance, if the arm were 5 feet (1.524 m), then the long shank would be 15 feet (4.572 m). The centre of curvature of the arms is one third, the distance up the shank from the crown (Upham, 1983). Iron stocks started at the end of the eighteenth century. The anchors can be distinguished from the stock because they differ from anchor to anchor, and every kind of anchor stock had their role. Wooden stocks with bands used in the Admiralty and Rodger type of anchors. These wooden stocks were straight and tapered on either side. Rodger wooden stocks had their own merits and demerits.

The stock of Admiral Pattern anchors was round having a collar and stock pin at the centre. The stock put through hole of the shank; the collar and the stock pin hold the shank securely on both sides. The stock of the anchor ascertains that the arms rest vertically on the seabed and one fluke will dig itself in seabed providing maximum holding power. The Admiral Pattern anchors with its two flukes and the stock at right angles remained unchanged for many centuries. Further, Cotsell improved the design by providing a matching key in the hole of the stock and for the shank, which prevented dropping of the stock (Curryer, 1999; Cotsell, 1856). Nevertheless, the Admiralty iron stock differs from other stocks, circular in section and tapers towards its ends, and these were flexible. When the anchor falls on the sea bottom, most of the time the arms of the anchor will be parallel to the seabed. The stock will dig into the bottom and force one of its flukes into the sea bottom. Once the anchor brought aboard and the pin removed from the stock, the stock would become flexible, then it became easy to handle the anchor, and this was the most outstanding merit in Admiralty iron stocks.

The Trotman iron anchors were designed and improved by John Trotman (therefore named Trotman) and he patented the anchor in 1852. The Royal Navy and marine merchant vessels used Trotman anchors. John Trotman intended to offer better holding capacity and lightweight anchor for the merchant ships, which could be handled by a limited number of the crew; therefore, he designed the Trotman type of anchor. These anchors were used in the marine merchant vessels. The stock of these anchors are similar to the Admiralty anchor; the shank is of rectangular section. These anchors are constructed in two parts: arms, a crown was one part, and shank ending in a fork was the other part. Subsequently, these two parts were joined together. The crown and arm were held in the fork by a bolt when one arm holds the seabed; the other one put pressure on the shank, thus reducing the height above ground, and rendering it almost impossible for the cable to get entangled around it. The fish buckle was provided to stow the anchor. Initially, wooden stocks were provided, which were subsequently replaced by iron stocks (Curryer, 1999).

In comparison with other types of iron anchors, fewer Trotman of anchors are noticed in India, and these two anchors of Tuticorin are the first findings. The anchor of the fishing harbour probably belongs to a British merchant ship. The iron anchor of the old harbour of Tuticorin probably made for some specific purpose; therefore, wear and tear marks are not noticed, nor the anchor is corroded. This anchor is smaller than the anchor placed at the fishing harbour.

Anchors were fascinating to the seafarers. Stone anchors with various symbols have been recorded in the Mediterranean Sea, which either belongs to ownership or makers mark, etc., and this shows the affinity of mariners. Similar characters and symbols not noticed on any stone anchors of India but such signs generally not found on iron anchors. However, iron anchors were worshipped by the fisherfolk for a safe voyage, which is evident from Dabhol, Maharashtra, west coast of India (Gaur et al. 2009). Similarly, the Trotman iron anchor of the old harbour of Tuticorin has erected in commemoration of mariners. There might be many more such instances, further explorations and visits to museums may bring them to the limelight.

Besides, historical records and other evidence, these iron anchors emphasise on maritime contacts of India with European countries. The study of iron anchors may provide an insight into the size ships and period of shipwrecks. Several unexplored shipwrecks are lying in Indian waters, which may bring to light many such iron anchors, even other varieties, which so far not recorded in India. Studies on iron anchors would provide information on the development of technology and their significant role in maritime contacts with other countries. Iron anchors are part of our maritime heritage and should be recorded, studied and preserved for posterity or else we will lose them forever.