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In addition to the complete blocks, the team recovered almost 100 looses sheaves. Most were new and unused spares from the Bosun's stores while a small number showed signs of wear to side faces and the centre hole. With the exception of one sheave, all were manufacture from Lignum Vitae.

"Lignum vitae" is Latin for "wood of life", and derives from its medicinal uses; lignum vitae resin has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions from coughs to arthritis, and chips of the wood can also be used to brew a tea. Other names for lignum vitae include palo santo (Spanish for "holy wood") and greenheart; lignum vitae is also one of the numerous hard, dense woods referred to as ironwood.

The Lignum Vitae tree grows in the rain forests of South Africa. The wood is the densest of any known to man and has served many uses over the centuries. These uses range from small carved figurines made by the natives and sold to European visitors, up to stern gland bearings in naval vessels. Nowadays, to find a lignum vitae tree with a trunk of more than 75mm dia. is extremely rare! You can imagine our astonishment therefore, when we recovered a Top Block, which had sheaves of 500 mm dia! Here we are, at the end of the twentieth century and there are no more trees left to enable the production of even small items, let alone something as large as these magnificent sheaves.


It is perhaps a sad testament to mankind that objects such as these can NEVER again be produced. The giant majestic trees, which once flourished in the mid 18th century, have disappeared forever due to mans lack of foresight.

The sheaves recovered from the Invincible therefore, are TOTALLY UNIQUE. The excavation team placed a representative collection of these very rare items, in Chatham Historic Dockyard for our National heritage. Of the remainder, some are now available for sale to private collectors who might wish to invest in such a unique artefact. They vary in size from 120mm dia. To the largest being a massive 342 mm dia. x 85 mm thick. (largest in photograph above right). I personally have one of these (below on mount) on my desk in the office. It stands on a superb mount and makes a unique topic of conversation with my visitors or clients. Whichever way you would like to display your sheave just let me know and a quote will be sent by return. Alternatively, you could purchase a sheave without any mount and create your own way of showing it off to friends and visitors.
On many of the sheaves there is a BROAD ARROW. Due to the extremely hard material, the broad arrows are very crudely scratched into the surface. See picture below :-