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Fishermen had been sailing to Newfoundland to catch cod since the middle of the 16th century. They had developed a successful three way trade; the fish was caught and salted and brought back to be sold in Italy, Spain and Portugal, where it was very popular. The ships holds were then filled with wine, spices, dried fruits which would be sold in England. On the next trip to Newfoundland they carried produce from Dorset to be sold before the next catch.
Dorset ships sailed around the coast of England and across the channel and in the 16th century they began to venture further afield to the Mediterranean and beyond. They carried locally grown wool and returned with wines, spices, and silks from Venice and Constantinople.
At its largest the Roman Empire was home to sixty million people. Every day ships carried goods to and fro. Traders visited Britain from as far away as Athens (in Greece) and Syria (in the Middle East). Archaeologists have found evidence of fish sauce being imported from Antibes in the south of France and olive oil from Spain as well as fine pottery from France and glass from Egypt.
The sight of a ship like this making ready to sail in the late 1700’s would have been very interesting to the people of Weymouth. Most of the ships and boats in the harbour traded around the British coast. This ship is a privateer and is making ready to search out and board any French ship that crosses its path.
These ships and boats needed ropes and sails and the crew needed warm clothing; and Dorset provided all three, and many other materials needed for the long voyages so many of the ships had to undertake.