Marianne Young

Marianne Young

High Commissioner, Windhoek

Part of UK in Namibia

6th June 2012 Windhoek, Namibia

One of Namibia’s lesser known gems: a gold-filled 16th century Portuguese shipwreck

HE Mrs Marianne Young at NamDeb diamond mine site looking at the beach where the wreck was discovered
Anchors and other artefacts

As well as being rich in minerals and boasting some of the most spectacular landscapes in Africa (if not the world), Namibia can also claim to be the site of some extraordinary archaeological finds.

During my recent familiarisation trip to the south of the country, I had the opportunity to visit one of these special sites in Oranjemund: the wreck of a 16th century Portuguese trading vessel, complete with a rich cargo of gold, silver, ivory and copper.

The wreck was discovered in 2008 by De Beers NAMDEB diamond miners working on the beaches of the south Namibia near the mouth of the Orange River on the country’s border with South Africa.

NAMDEB dredges the sand on the expansive beaches to recover alluvial diamonds deposited there after being carried down the river from as far away as the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa.

During their mining operations, they discovered cannons, copper ingots, pieces of wood and anchors, leading NAMDEB to contact the local heritage authorities. Subsequent excavations produced a large amount of gold, silver and copper alloy coins; elephant ivory tusks; tons of copper, lead, pewter and tin ingots; kitchenware; cannons, muskets and swords; navigational equipment and medical equipment.

Some of the copper ingots were inscribed with the Fugger family crest, a prominent family from Augsburg, Germany who were invested in the Portuguese shipping trade. Dates on the coins date back to 1525.

Although the ship itself was badly destroyed, researchers examining the remaining planks suggest that the ship was a nau, a large, strong ship used by the Portuguese on their India Routes, which had been buried in sand for more than 500 years.

Ten anchors, all of cast iron, were discovered within the excavations. Three astrolabes and a brass compass gimbal were recovered from site outside Oranjemund. Many of the archaeological remains recovered in this spectacular haul have never been seen in finds elsewhere, making it one of the richest historical maritime discoveries in the world.

I was lucky enough to see the remains, which are currently being examined and stored on NAMDEB premises, whilst plans are being made to build a regional museum to house them. The exact location of this museum remains the subject of some local debate. Given that many of the 60,000 British nationals who travel to Namibia each year are likely to be interested in this unique discovery – I intend to remain in close touch with the company and local heritage authorities as plans shape up to make it accessible to the public.

As soon as it becomes clearer where it will be permanently housed and displayed, I will update our UKinNamibia Facebook and make sure it is added to the itineraries of the many UK tour operators who recommend interesting routes around this beautiful land. It is a sight well worth seeing.

HE Mrs Marianne Young looking at one of the recovered ship’s cannons and copper ingot cargo in NamDeb warehouse

About Marianne Young

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented her credentials to the President of the Republic of…

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the
Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented
her credentials to the President of the Republic of Namibia on 3rd
Mrs Young joined the FCO in 2001 following a career in international
journalism, including time spent running an Asian maritime press office
in Singapore and a traineeship on the UK’s Times newspaper.
Her first role in the FCO was as a Press Officer in News Department,
after which she went on to be Head of the Great Lakes Section in Africa
Directorate and then Head of the East Africa & Horn Section.
In 2005, she became the first Head of Communications for the Engaging with the Islamic World Group.
She moved to the British High Commission in Pretoria in February 2007
and served as the Head of the External Political Section and Deputy
High Commissioner to the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mrs Young moved across to the British High Commission in Windhoek in
June 2011, and presented her credentials to the President of the
Republic of Namibia on 3rd August 2011.
On her appointment as British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia, Mrs Young said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be appointed Her Majesty’s High
Commissioner to Namibia. I look forward to working to strengthen the
many commercial, political and cultural ties between our two countries,
and to help the many British nationals who holiday there. My family and I
are particularly thrilled to be remaining in southern Africa – and to
have the opportunity to explore this beautiful country further and
discover more about its people and culture.”
Curriculum vitae

Full name:
Marianne Young

Married to:
Barry Young

Two daughters and one son

June 2011
Windhoek, British High Commissioner

2007 – 2011
Pretoria, Head of External Political Section and DHC for the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland

2005 – 2006
FCO, Head of Communications, Engaging with the Islamic World Group

2004 – 2005
FCO, Head of East Africa & Horn Section, Africa Directorate

3/2003 – 8/2003
FCO, Head of Great Lakes Section, Africa Directorate

2002 – 2003
FCO, Press Officer, Press Office

2001 – 2002
FCO, Departmental Report Editor, Press Office

Joined FCO

Senior Correspondent, Fairplay Group, UK

Staff Editor and then Asia Editor, Fairplay Group Singapore

Graduate Trainee at The Times newspaper, UK

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