(CNN)A warship carrying about 330 people -- including James Stuart, future King of England -- ran aground and sank on May 6, 1682. Now the shipwreck's location has finally been revealed off the coast of England 340 years later.
Unopened wine bottles still on board a royal ship 340 years after it sank
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When the HMS Gloucester sank, it became half buried in the seabed. There was no formal passenger manifest, but it's estimated that 130 to 250 crew and passengers drowned.
Stuart, who would be crowned James II as King of England and King of Ireland and James VII as King of Scotland almost three years later, was nearly one of those casualties.
At the time of the calamity, the then-Duke of York was a Catholic heir to the Protestant throne during a time of both political and religious tension. His near miss stands out in British history, as does the significant loss of life.
"Because of the circumstances of its sinking, this can be claimed as the single most significant historic maritime discovery since the raising of the Mary Rose in 1982," Claire Jowitt, professor of English and history at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.
"The discovery promises to fundamentally change understanding of 17th-century social, maritime and political history."
Artifacts have already been collected and conserved from the site, such as clothing, shoes, navigational and naval equipment, and lots of wine bottles -- including some that remain unopened.
One of the wine bottles bears a glass seal with the crest of George Washington's ancestors, the Legge family. And that crest's design preceded the US Stars and Stripes.
An exhibition including finds from the shipwreck will open in the spring at the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery. Jowitt is cocurator of the exhibit and author of a new study about the shipwreck.
The discovery of the shipwreck has just been announced, but it was initially found in 2007. The delay was caused by the time necessary to confirm the ship's identity and protect the at-risk site, located in international waters off the Norfolk coast.
Historic England, a public body of the British government that oversees England's historic sites, will protect the shipwreck.
Brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell decided to search for the ship after taking inspiration from watching the raising of the Mary Rose wreck on television as kids. The brothers are printers in Norfolk as well as licensed divers and honorary fellows at the University of East Anglia's School of History.
The Barnwell brothers and their late father, Michael, along with friend and fellow diver and former Royal Navy submariner James Little, found the shipwreck after searching for four years. The Gloucester was split down the keel, with parts of the hull still submerged in the sand.