THIS magnificently carved rudder-head is the culmination of seven years diving on the Swash Channel Wreck.

Brought to the surface for the first time since the 1630-40 shipwreck, the massive oak rudder from the armed merchant ship will be the last artefact to see the light of day from the highly significant site.

Revealed at the Poole Harbour quayside of Jenkins Marine, it is the result of thousands of dives on the wreck just outside Poole Harbour, which has seen an array of treasures brought to the surface by Bournemouth University's marine archaeology divers.

The moustachioed, helmeted warrior atop the 8½ metre, 3½ tonne rudder was lying on the seabed amid the remains of the possibly Dutch merchantman.

“We have only seen it underwater, to see it all at once is quite spectacular,” said Dave Parham, senior lecturer in marine archaeology at Bournemouth University, as the carving was revealed.

A rich seam of treasure has been mined from the underwater site, lodged at one side of the main shipping channel, since English Heritage and the university got involved in 2006.

The 1,000 finds include at least six iron cannon and shot, wooden barrels, rigging, copper, pewter, bones and apothecary jars, a rare wooden carving of a merman and planks from the ship have also been raised.

Timber dating from the 40m long, 600 tonne ship has revealed the trees were felled for it in 1628 but the actual identity of the ornate ship is no nearer to being revealed.

“What would be nice would be to have a historical reference, papers saying it was sailing from here to there,” said Dave. “You don't need that. From an archaeological perspective the really interesting thing is the study of the whole. It doesn't need to have an identity.”

Constantly sprayed with water to prevent it drying out, the valuable 17th century rudder has now gone to York Archaeological Trust to be preserved and in two years time it is hoped it will return to Poole for display at the museum.